A Woman Is No Man

A Woman Is No Man

A Novel

eBook - 2019
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A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March - A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month - A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019 "A stunning debut novel that hooked me from page one. With the utterly compelling characters of three Arab-American women, Rum accomplishes the high-wire act of telling a story that feels both contemporary and timeless, intimate and epic. This is a novel you devour in a few precious sittings, that you press into the hands of friends and family, that lingers in your heart and mind long after the last page." -Tara Conklin, New York Times Bestselling Author of THE LAST ROMANTICS "Where I come from, we've learned to silence ourselves. We've been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of-dangerous, the ultimate shame." Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naIve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children-four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family-knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, 2019
ISBN: 9780062699787
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Recorded Books, Inc

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Jan 26, 2020

Ellie recommend

Dec 27, 2019

Three generations of Palestinian women growing up in America struggle to fight the violent patriarchy of their culture. The book puts a personal stamp on what one reads in the newspapers. It is well laid out, with chapter heads that tell the reader what the time period is and to which character we’ve jumped backward or forward. The ending was a bit tricky; it jumped back in time after the reader knows what has happened to the particular character. It’s a good twist because it brings hope to the ending. It is a bit repetitive with each generation facing the same extraordinary lack of power in her life. But it is only through repetitive action that life will change for these women. Read it to recognize how much of the world lives this life to varying degrees.

Nov 29, 2019


Oct 10, 2019

This was an extremely challenging novel to read! Simply because the story laid bare the disturbing and heartbreaking truths about conservative Palestinian culture and the restrictions, pressures, and violations placed on Women, even when they live in Western societies. In fact, as I've witnessed personally from other doctrinal societies, the zealotry of holding on to rigidity of culture becomes inflated and idealized when living in communities that adhere to different principles. Etaf's use of language is beautiful, poetic even and is fueled by three POV characters who reveal their experiences and lives within a culture that has zero respect for women as individuals and really even as humans. And before I get on my high horse, I acknowledge that although the outward legacy of misogyny may be better camouflaged in our society the underlying and virulent philosophy which creates these beliefs exists and is just as damaging and debilitating for the Female Soul. So put on your grown-up pants and read this, because knowledge is power and power makes us act to bring about change!

Sep 20, 2019

Beautifully written. A good message and a must read.

Aug 10, 2019

Endlessly, determined, dogged grim. Unflinching, relentlessly, unyieldingly depressing. The fantasy that women in America are better off than women in third world countries is challenged here. The culture of male supremacy is alive and well in the USA (the critique of the Republican Party’s war on women is evident throughout). NOT a fun read. NOT an uplifting story. NOT a hopeful story in any way. Read at your own peril.
I could do a 2500 word rant on the commodification of and subjugation of women, but read the book instead.

Jul 14, 2019

I think the message of the book is important and I applaud Etaf for speaking these truths, BUT- it was too much. Every scene was the same. It could have been half the length and the message the same.

Jul 13, 2019

The writing is good, but the story is just so sad and depressing.

Apr 20, 2019

A Woman Is No Man tells 2 stories. It is about the daughter of a Palestinian woman who moves to the United States to get married, leaving her family behind, AND her daughter who, along with her 3 sisters, is being raised by her grandparents in New York. We see glimpses of the girl's mother and the two stories unfold side by side in the novel: the mother arriving in New York and beginning her marriage and the daughter beginning to rebel against her culture and starting to question the story she has been told all her life about her parents.

I both read and listened to this novel. The audiobook is read by Ariana Delawari, and her performance was good. This is one of those books that I hesitate to say that I enjoyed because the subject matter is so heavy. I found it moving. My heart broke repeatedly for Isra. I feel like I should have had more sympathy for Fareed, but it was hard, and not because of what happened in Palestine. When I was getting ready to write this review I read a little bit about the author and discovered that she was raised in a similar environment and decided that it was not a life she wanted for her daughters. Good luck to her! I admire her bravery.

Mar 27, 2019

Etaf Rum’s debut A Woman Is No Man, is a compelling look at the lives of conservative Palestinian-American women as they try to find their voice in a deeply patriarchal culture. The story is told through alternating chapters of Isra in the 1990s as she moves to the US hoping her life will become easier juxtaposed with her daughter Deya in the late 2000s, who is trying to learn about her mom’s past and create her own future. I usually do not like books with alternating chapters but this style really worked with A Woman Is No Man. The novel includes challenging themes of domestic abuse, misogyny, and alcoholism and Rum’s talent is most prominent as she portrays dark topics in a very raw but accessible manner. There are also some elements of suspense and mystery that worked well with the novel and the short chapters add to the captivation. The book is not without faults, however, and just as Rum is able to make the story very accessible, it sometimes becomes a little too simplistic and YA-ish. Also, some parts were needlessly detailed which brought me out of the story. Overall, however, A Woman is No Man is a capable debut that exposes a necessary but concealed story.

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Oct 10, 2019

"She had thought that the meaning of her daughter's name, hope, might grow a seed of hope in her heart, but it had not. She woke up every morning feeling very young, yet at the same time terribly old. Some days she felt as though she were still a child, other days as though she had felt far too much of the world for one life. That she had been burdened with duty ever since she was a child. That she had never really lived. She felt empty; she felt full. She needed people; she needed to be alone. She couldn't get the equation right. Who was to blame? She thought it was herself. She thought it was her mother, and her mother's mother, and the mothers of all their mothers, all the way back in time." pg. 248


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