A Woman Is No Man (Review)

34313931A Woman Is No Man
By Etaf Rum
336 pages, publish March 2019 by Harper
Source: Borrowed from a friend

From Goodreads:

This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.

 In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

 This book wasn't even on my radar until my bestie Breanne read it and loved it, and passed it on to me! I'm so glad she did, because I absolutely loved this book.  It's so well written--I couldn't stop reading this heartbreaking yet beautiful story. I loved the characters--especially Deya, Sarah, and Isra. I loved how their love for books and reading was woven into the story. Even after finishing this book, I missed the characters as if they were real people. This book will leave you thinking about it long after you've finished it.

This book is hard to read at times--these women are forced into a life  where they have little to no choice other than to be married at eighteen to a man picked by their parents, and then to immediately start having babies--preferably sons.  My heart hurt for these women. Though I understand that being a wife and mother that young is their culture, there were other aspects of their lives there were absolutely not okay and were downright disturbing.  I don't want to give too much away in this review.  But there were bright spots--how books and learning were a driving force in giving them hope, and no matter our circumstances, there is always a desire to learn and hope for something better.  This is a story needs to be told, and Etaf Rum did a beautiful job. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone.

My favorite quote from the book, from Sarah, on reading and books and why she loved them so much:

"It was more than loneliness. Sometimes I think it was the opposite of loneliness too, like there were too many people around me, forced connections, that I needed a little isolation to think on my own, to be my own person."

I couldn't agree more, Sarah!

Happy Reading!


  1. It really fascinates me the way these cultural traditions have to reckon with more modern sensibilities.

  2. Hi! I'm Carole from Carole's Chatter. I've followed your blog for quite a while now. I wondered if you would like to join the group of bloggers who share their posts on a monthly basis via Books You Loved. I host this link up on the first Wednesday of each month. If you would like to check it out just hop on over to Carole's Chatter. We would all love to see you there. Cheers


Post a Comment