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Painted Hands

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Muslim bad girl Zainab Mir has just landed a job working for a post-feminist, Republican Senate candidate. Her best friend Amra Abbas is about to make partner at a top Boston law firm. Together they’ve thwarted proposal-slinging aunties, cultural expectations, and the occasional bigot to succeed in their careers. What they didn’t count on? Unlikely men and geopolitical fir ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  369 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not gonna lie. Despite having an online connection to the author, and a sense of duty as a fellow author and cyber friend to read PAINTED HANDS, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I couldn't imagine myself connecting with the characters or the plot. The struggles of American Muslim women simply was not on my radar as a big hairy Texan. I certainly do not consider myself bigoted or narrow minded but WOW did this novel open my eyes. I held far more stereo types that I care to admit, not ou ...more
Catherine Vibert
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gulped up this page turner of a book which grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go until the very end. There is really just not enough literature out there that lets you into the world and thinking of Muslim-American people. This is the kind of book that starts conversations and dialogues which is why I call it literature. It touches all the button points of the fear and and hate issues that rise from Islamic faith and terrorism in America, and what it is like to be a Muslim-American living i ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kat's Review

Let's cut to the chase: I Loved This Book. Period.

What? You want more? FINE.

This author wrote a novel that should be a simple story depicting the lives of several women who struggle to make the choices that are right for them despite the cultural and religious expectations of family and friends. However, with the tense relations between many Muslim and non-Muslim Americans still so prevalent today, this really is a brave story showing the struggles that Muslim women face both fro
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, fiction
"Painted Hands" is the story of two very different women. Both are Muslim Americans and although Amna and Zainab have grown up as best friends but now they are on very different paths. This is a fascinating story of friendship and culture and trying to find one's place in the world. I really enjoyed this book!

I was drawn into this story of friendship from the very beginning. Amna and Zainab were so fascinating to me. They both came from similar environments but they change into such different pe
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
When I was in high school I read everything Allen Drury had written up to that point. Many of them had written before I was even born, so they were a bit dated, but they gave me a love of political fiction that remains to this day, and probably explains my lingering obsession with The West Wing as well. It is this love that was the main reason I accepted TLC’s offer to read and review Jennifer Zobair’s first novel Painted Hands.

I started reading the book a few days ago, and I’ll confess to being
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: e'erbody
I want to quote the whole book. Jennifer Zobair's Painted Hands, as well as a squee-worthy, page-turning chick-lit about two Pakistani-American women managing love and careers, Painted Hands is also an incisive, honest, but compassionate look at the lives of modern Muslim men and women. In Amra, Zainab, and their friends, Zobair manages to convey a myriad of viewpoints and issues in the Muslim community.

It requires a specific type of author to approach this subject, an author quite self-aware a
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome-people
Jennifer Zobair, in PAINTED HANDS, creates a cast of characters that give a fascinating look at Muslim-American culture. Within her story about navigating love and life while balancing Muslim religious and cultural beliefs with an American way of life, Zobair provides an array of characters covering the spectrum between devout followers of Islam and those who reject the beliefs of family and childhood.

The story follows a group of friends for more than a year as they juggle careers, political dif
SISTERS Magazine
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair is the engaging, twisting narrative of an unlikely set of characters: Zainab Mir, the high-powered glamorous head of a Republican political campaign; Amra Abbas, workaholic lawyer who puts in brutal hours in the hopes that she’ll make it to partner of the firm; Hayden Palmer, fellow lawyer, party girl and unlucky in love; and Chase Holland, radio show host and golden boy for bigoted neo-cons.

Painted Hands falls somewhere between the categories of ethnic fiction a
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
As a white, atheist, Irish-American feminist, I am having a hard time analyzing this book. I'm certainly going to try, but what do I do know about Painted Hands is that it is exceedingly well-written, gripping, and thoughtful.

Review to come.
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have to be honest and say I hated, absolutely hated the first 100 pages of this book. I with this close to putting in down and writing a negative, truncated review. I thought the first 100 pages of the book relied heavily on prejudiced characters and overwhelming stereotypes. Mostly of westerners/Americans: highly promiscuous women made unhappy by such behavior; sex-obsessed American men focused only on conquering women and not interested in real, deep relationships; and other types it's not n ...more
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Chick-lit Muslim style.

Having suggested this for a multi-cultural book group that I attend, I was initially concerned that it was too much of a chick-lit read. However, as I got more involved in the story, the significance of the Muslim angle became more apparent and the resulting discussion was fascinating.

Two of the main characters, Amra and Mateen, are Muslims from American Pakistani families. Their meeting is orchestrated by their parents, although they had known each other as children. Amra
Sarah Hina
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this groundbreaking debut novel, Jennifer Zobair weaves together the friendships, careers, and romantic relationships of three Muslim women, illuminating the points of intersection with nuance, empathy, and a writing voice that shines. PAINTED HANDS is a book for people who love richly drawn characters and tight, riveting storytelling.  

As the novel’s heart and soul, Amra has worked years of grueling hours toward achieving her goal of making partner at a prestigious Boston law firm, only to f
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written book about American Muslim women. I was hesitant at the beginning but as the book began to pick up steam I was hooked. She really illustrated the horrible stereotypes of Muslim women and also dispelled them wonderfully in this novel. There was also great character development of the three friends and I loved how each of their stories ended. I learned a lot and look forward to more of the author's writing. Job well done.

P.S. I received the book recommendation from t
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, drama, religion
I thought at first I wouldn't enjoy this book but as I got further into it, it came to life for me. The author does an excellent job, in this novel, discussing many different aspects of being a Muslim-American woman. The cultural aspects and discussion are interesting and readers will enjoy this glimpse into a world that isn't often portrayed in novels.

Nancy Berkman
Jul 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is a flat romance novel dressed up with pretense and a political agenda. For example, you can immediately tell what is going to happen to each female character by the way her looks are initially described. All of the non-Muslim white people are portrayed as jerks.
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

I began this book under the pretense that the author was a woman of East Indian descent. I was enormously surprised, and in awe, to find out that she is actually an American woman, who chose to convert to Islam in her later years. I am endlessly fascinated by an individual's decision to convert to any one religion, and will have to get an interview with her up here soon. The synopsis boldly compares Painted Hands to The Namesake, and Sex in the City, which are two of my fa
Richard Levangie
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Painted Hands A Novel by Jennifer Zobair

Can I admit that I was dubious?

I read the first chapter of Painted Hands with skepticism fully engaged. Second chapter, too. But somewhere around the third or fourth chapters, Jennifer Zobair’s Painted Hands transformed my doubt into something akin to astonishment. I was reading a book about attractive, accomplished women juggling careers and families and husbands and lovers, and enjoying that book immensely. 

I didn’t expect to do so. Sure, Jennifer Zobair’s a friend, and I admire her way wi
Zainab Bint Younus
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair is the engaging, twisting narrative of an unlikely set of characters: Zainab Mir, the high-powered glamorous head of a Republican political campaign; Amra Abbas, workaholic lawyer who puts in brutal hours in the hopes that she’ll make it to partner of the firm; Hayden Palmer, fellow lawyer, party girl and unlucky in love; and Chase Holland, radio show host and golden boy for bigoted neo-cons.

Painted Hands falls somewhere between the categories of ethnic fiction a
"Muslim bad girl Zainab Mir has just landed a job working for a post-feminist, Republican Senate candidate. Her best friend Amra Abbas is about to make partner at a top Boston law firm. Together they’ve thwarted proposal-slinging aunties, cultural expectations, and the occasional bigot to succeed in their careers. What they didn’t count on? Unlikely men and geopolitical firestorms."

Zainab is getting a lot of attention as the very stylish spokeswoman for a candidate known for speaking her mind w
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Full review here.

This is a very well-written book. The characters are believable. Zobair treads the fine line of making them appear modern and progressive Muslims, rejecting fundamentalist, regressive notions, but still maintaining love and respect for their culture and heritage. We do not generally get to read of such moderates, so it was quite a breath of fresh air to hear the views of these feminists. Apart from the religious aspect, the women in this novel struggle for basic equality, becaus
Katie/Doing Dewey
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Zainab Mir is already pushing against cultural expectations by working for a Republican senator and things only get more complicated as she befriends a gay reporter; is featured in a suggestive magazine article; and falls for a Muslim-bashing member of the opposition. Amra Abbas also has a high powered career, dreaming of becoming a partner in a law firm. When she reconnects with a childhood crush she conceals her career ambitions until the point at which reconciliation might not be possible.

I w
Nishith Vasavada
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a person of Indian origin who has raised two daughters in the United States, I really enjoyed the perspective provided by Ms. Zobair, which is quite accurate and balanced. It sheds light on the Pakistani and Indian Muslim diaspora with its amazing diversity on politics, religion, culture, and so forth. It is also interesting to see how this diaspora is enriching our lives and in many ways they share the same values and aspirations for freedom and fairness we do. Having just published a novel ...more
Miss Susan
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: muslim-lead
okay so let's start with what this story is not about

this is not a story about a hijabi who is deeply connected to her religious community, draws strength from that connection, and who finds value in consulting the quran and religious writing when wrestling with their opinions on culture and ethics

i am specifying this because as much as i enjoyed this book -- jennifer zobair is a great writer! i am totally gonna keep an eye out for her next work! -- there was definitely a part of me disgruntled
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
Three best friends are living in the city and learning how to cope as Muslim women in a modern day America. Each of them take steps that turn them towards a more modern view of their lifestyle and religion. But when hard situations come calling, which ones will return to their heritage and embrace the traditions they were raised with.

I was a little apprehensive about reading this book. I've had some bad experiences with "Indian" books before. But I was not only pleasantly surprised, I was impr
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A window into a culture different than my own, Painted Hands revealed the subtle and not so subtle prejudices people tend to have against those they do not know or understand. Zobair creates situations for her characters to respond to stereotypes and assumptions toward them and allows readers to not only see the effects of racism and sexism but also to see how to educate others and combat those preconceived notions. The friendship between Amra and Zainab reminds readers that no matter what relig ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I don't recall feeling so deeply invested emotionally in a cast of characters as in Painted Hands. Maybe it's me, but there's a point in a good book (thus earning the good part) when the characters stop being "them" in my mind, becoming "us." With Painted Hands, that's no easy thing for a guy raised in the culturally homogenous suburbs of the Florida "I-4 corridor," even one who likes to think of himself as liberal in mind and spirit.

I think it elevates Painted Hands beyond merely good - to
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book that showed so many different types of Islam and brought up the kinds of debates and inner struggles with how each person interprets their faith. Rather than monolithic, it was heterogeneous and varied.

I wish there had been less ambiguity over what happens with Chase and Zainab, as well as with Hayden. I felt in the latter, there wasn't much resolution in her story. I really didn't like how judgmental Mateen was regarding Zainab considering his own shortcomings, or how he seemed
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and my only area of disappointment is that I've finished it. It was a story of friends - Zainab and Amra are life long friends who attended Smith together and are now in high powered careers in Boston. It is also a story of relationships, love and motherhood.

But it's much more because the women are Desi Muslims (Google explained that means non-Arabic) born in the United States but raised with Pakistani traditions. Their relationship with their religion, its respon
Got a chance to read a pre-published copy of this book. Story of three female friends, American born of Pakistani background, living in post 9/11 America, dealing with their cultural identity, and people's perception of them as Muslim women. Intelligent, outspoken, successful, career driven, all three go through experiences that will have them doubt their cultural/religious upbringing, as well as their American colleagues and friends. An interesting parallel story of Hayden - a young American wo ...more
Deb Barton
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I read it through dinner, continued while my husband watched TV and stayed up long after he went to sleep so I could finish it ! I was riveted by the characters and their stories. I loved the Boston references. But most of all I loved getting a glimpse into a world that I knew little about - the Muslim-American community. I truly think this book will go a long way in healing many Americans' perceptions of Muslims. I was chilled by the clearly coincidental similarity to real li ...more
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After growing up in the Midwest, Jennifer Zobair headed east to attend Smith College and Georgetown Law School. She has practiced corporate and immigration law in New York and Michigan, and has been a strong advocate for Muslim women’s rights. She is married to a fellow Georgetown Law graduate who happens to be Pakistani-American, which means she knows her cumin from her coriander and that the dry ...more

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