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West of the Jordan: A Novel
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West of the Jordan: A Novel

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  144 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
This is a brilliant and revelatory first novel by a woman who is both an Arab and an American, who speaks with both voices and understands both worlds. Through the narratives of four cousins at the brink of maturity, Laila Halaby immerses her readers in the lives, friendships, and loves of girls struggling with national, ethnic, and sexual identities. Mawal is the stable o ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published June 15th 2003 by Beacon Press (first published June 1st 2003)
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Lauren Kaskey
Aug 21, 2007 Lauren Kaskey rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in the Arab-American and Palestinian experience
Shelves: beaconbooks
This book took a while for me to really get in to. The way it was structured was a little confusing. The book is about four cousins, each chapter has the name of the cousin as the chapter title (they are all girls, there are multiple chapters with the same title). The only thing is--the chapters are from different viewpoints, but about that cousin. The first four chapters are from the cousins' viewpoints, their own narratives. Then the next chapters might be from the viewpoint of the mothers or ...more
Jan 06, 2009 David rated it really liked it
This was actually pretty good. It all takes place in America and is about Arab American girls trying to find their place between American culture and Arab culture. That whole trying to adapt to the American melting pot while staying true to your roots. The girls in the story are cousins and it switches between each one and the trials they go through. Of course it comes with the obligatory anti-American rhetoric oxymoron American publishing companies adore so much. So if you can get past the ster ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Aziza rated it it was ok
Just like in Raja Abdallah Sabi’s Girls of Riyadh, four young women are at the heart of this story about growing up, identity, family, and (abandoning) traditions. Only this time, the women are from Jordan, a far more open society than Saudi Arabia, and there are even more ties to the United States as the author herself is the daughter of a Jordanian father and an American mother.

Being bi-cultural is aptly portrayed by Hala, one of the protagonists who just finished High School in Tuscon, Arizo
May 21, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, own
I found this an intriguing novel about the clashing of Arabic and American cultures. The story follows 4 cousins and the choices they make in their lives. A great read!
Apr 16, 2015 DubaiReader rated it liked it
Shelves: kutub-bk-grp, kindle, 2015
Arab girls in America.

This is an interesting look at the feelings and emotions of four Jordanian female cousins with Palestinian roots. They all live an expatriated life, in Jordan or USA and relate in different ways to their Arab heritage.

I initially found the book rather confusing and I wished I'd kept a who's who from the start. It felt like a cast of thousands and I had a job remembering how each of the cousins was connected. The chronology was also non-linear, which caused more confusion.
Feb 09, 2015 Maha rated it it was ok
There is no story. It's an easy to read written collections of life stories of four Arab teenagers from Palestine. I struggled to finish it mainly because I could see that it was going no where. Let's see where the book club discussion will takes us!
Mar 29, 2009 Rrshively rated it it was ok
Although I didn't rate this book very high, I am glad I read it and think it would be an important book for anyone who wants to understand young women from Palestine and Jordan. It brought fresh insights into the plight of the Palestinians. The interface of their experiences in both the Arab world and America was well written. I found it somewhat difficult to remember which character was which. The blurb on the cover about the book had about two sentences about each girl, and I referred to them ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Judy rated it it was ok
Perhaps I've read too many books on the multicultural identity theme at this point but I was not overly taken by the characters or their lives in West of the Jordan. Flat ending.
Mar 31, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It follows the stories of 4 Jordanian cousins, and the chapters jump through each of their stories. I never get tired of any of them. 3 of the cousins have moved to America, and 1 of them remains behind in Jordan. It seems as though this author was writing specifically for a more Western audience. She does a great job of balancing a world for the reader which makes you see clearly some of the differences and similarities between your own culture and theirs. Also, she does chal ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Laila rated it liked it
I really liked this book, which I picked out becasue I share a first name with the author. It gave me some insight into Arab and Arab-American culture, as seen through the eyes of several female cousins. Not a whole lot of resolution happens, it's more of a collection of memories. One gripe though was that the author seemed to be a bit overly ambitiousd with the cast of characters she created, too mnay cousins and great-uncles with the same name etc. I had to make a diagram to get it straight.
Jun 13, 2013 notRahimeanymore rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this, but I'm not sure why. Switching the narration every chapter was confusing at first, but I found I could keep track of the cousins by about halfway through with no problems. I found myself thinking about the book and what would happen a lot when I wasn't reading it, which is always a good sign, but the ending was kind of a letdown.
Jan 05, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
While starting off a little slow and confusing, I soon grew to enjoy this novel. The stories of 4 Jordanian cousins are relatable, yet in a continent across the world from my own. I recommend this book to young adults.
Jan 22, 2009 LeAnn rated it liked it
Not as great as I expected. This book is good for gaining insight into the life of some Middle Eastern teenagers (both Americanized and not), but it just wasn't that captivating.
Jul 18, 2007 Carlyn rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those wanting a woman's perspective on Arab-American life
Shelves: fiction
Four Arab & Arab-American girl cousins tell the (fictional) stories of their experiences as such, both in the U.S. and in their family's homeland.
Dorothy Gondwe
Jun 10, 2010 Dorothy Gondwe is currently reading it
so far enjoying this book, Laila gives her characters their own voices which makes their stories truly unique and independent.
Dec 27, 2011 Bridget rated it it was ok
The four main characters were not well developed. Great premise, but could have been written better.
Holly S. Warah
Jun 29, 2011 Holly S. Warah rated it liked it
I liked the idea of this book, but somehow it fell flat for me.
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Laila Halaby is the author of two novels, West of the Jordan (winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award) and Once in a Promised Land. She lives with her family in Tucson, Arizona.
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