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Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  6,289 ratings  ·  909 reviews
A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassett
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
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Aemun Safwan In the book, she tells honestly what it is like living under the rules of Saudi tradition and culture. She notes that in her research, Islam does not …moreIn the book, she tells honestly what it is like living under the rules of Saudi tradition and culture. She notes that in her research, Islam does not support the social rules that are so brutally enforced in Saudi Arabia during her childhood. She calls out the connection of "Islamic scholars" to the government and their underlying agendas.
Besides this, she relays the stories of other Muslim women she interacts with, all of whom are different. Some are liberal, some do not wear hijab, some have jobs, some are mean, some are conservative. They are each unique.
She also writes about the other influences causing abuse in her childhood. These include poverty, mental illness, and domestic violence. Not just an extremist (and unjust) interpretation of Islam.
She is telling only her story. She is asking for change. She did not tolerate oppression.
To ignore all of the above and assume she and all Muslim women are just oppressed and that's that while reading/after having read the book is a blatantly biased approach to a very personal and honest story.
I think it is very eye-opening and saddening, but also hopeful and motivated for change, especially since we are already seeing progress in Saudi Arabia today.
I think you should read it. It can be hard to read, it can anger you. But I learned from it and am proud of her.
That's my two cents. (less)
Aemun Safwan I think what she means by the difference her education made was her ability to work professionally as an equal to men, to think about things in a logi…moreI think what she means by the difference her education made was her ability to work professionally as an equal to men, to think about things in a logical manner, to interact with people that are different from her, to have new experiences, and to learn different opinions and perspectives and ultimately make her own choices.
Her education was not just from the University, but also as a child. Her mother insisted on her being educated, there she got to escape from the abuse at home and found a way to take pride in herself and her accomplishments.
She also did her own research about Islam and the laws of Saudi Arabia. This is its own kind of education. She learned that the rules so brutally enforced upon her and others when she was growing up were not Islamic and sometimes not even law. They were cultural, they were social. They were tradition. And yet they were enforced as though these made up rules were absolute truths. So she learned, and she learned to challenge these rules.
Finally, I don't think this is the entire premise of the book is just education. The book definitely is a proof of the power of education, but that is not the only point made.
It is also about the Saudi systems, the experience of one girl in Saudi Arabia; how she grew and learned, how she persisted, what she endured, and how she decided she was going to change things. It's about her sacrifices.
To me, it's about the miracle of human perseverance and ambition. It's about coming out of the dark into the light. It's about having hope. It's about the danger of unchecked power and uncontested ideas. But ultimately, it is her story. Education is a part of it, but it is not the whole premise.
I hope this helped. (less)

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Imagine not being allowed to drive . . .

This is a gripping true story told by Manal, a woman in Saudi Arabia who got arrested by the “religious police” for driving while female. There is no law that forbids women from driving, but the religious police are powerful. One evening they took her from her house, interrogated her for hours, and then threw her in jail, with feces underfoot and cockroaches in her bed. She wasn’t in jail a long time, but her story was all the more sad because she had a yo
Angela M
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
News update 9/26/17 : Saudi Women Are Now Allowed to Drive!
I am not inclined to read memoirs as a rule, unless it is one by a remarkable individual whose story is impactful, whose journey is more than just trying to find oneself, whose story has something in it that I, not just as a woman, but as a human being should know. This is one such memoir of a truly remarkable woman who is smart and courageous and fights the fight
Diane S ☔
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive and honest rendering of a woman's life in Saudi Arabia. For any curious about if what you hear and see on the television is true, this book will astonish, fill in many blanks about living in a country ruled by Sharia law. A country where the religious police are given even more power than the law. The author takes us through her childhood, living in Mecca, her parents, a sister she was often at odds with and her beloved brother. Where a woman is allowed to do so little on her own ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, recs
Daring to Drive follows Manal al-Sharif’s journey to becoming a leader of Women to Drive, a campaign protesting Saudi Arabia’s now-overturned ban on women driving. Much of the memoir describes al-Sharif’s working-class childhood in Mecca; the author sketches her family life, explains Saudi customs, and recounts how her generation was radicalized by a fundamentalist education instituted in the wake of tragedy. Later chapters reflect on the autonomy al-Sharif gained as one of the few women working ...more
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The rain begins with a single drop."

When Manal al-Sharif got behind the wheel of the car she'd spent years making payments on and rode onto the city streets of Saudi Arabia, she was sure she had the law behind her. After all, a woman driving a car is not illegal so much as it is against tradition. Manal quickly learned how very little the legality of it all mattered to the Saudi secret police. She was arrested and thrown into a women's prison with appalling conditions. Like many of her fellow f
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I can't begin to imagine what it feels like to live in a society in which there are so many restrictions on women's rights and freedoms. Daring to Drive is Manal al-Sharif's memoir of her life in Saudi Arabia. Her claim to fame is that she was arrested for driving, and that she has led a campaign to give women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Manal's writing is straightforward and powerful. She recounts her childhood, her university years, her first marriage and her work as the only woman in ...more
In 2011, Manal al-Sharif was imprisoned for nine days for "driving while female" after a video of her driving went viral on Youtube. While not against any statutory laws she was defying the strict religious customs that prevent women from having any independence.

In this wonderful account of her life Manal describes her upbringing in the holy city of Mecca and the religious teaching at school that taught hate of anything different and resulted in her adopting extremist radical views during her t
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: NetGalley
Shelves: biography, netgalley
4.5 stars
This book is an inspiring story of a Saudi Arabian woman who rebels against her government's rule against women driving cars . Even though this is this is the 21st century, women are still forbidden to drive cars in Saudi Arabia by custom, not by law. Manal is arrested and imprisoned for daring to drive a car and post a recording of herself doing so online. But this book is also a story of her life growing up in Saudi Arabia. She was born in 1979 and she describes the extreme conservati
Montzalee Wittmann
Daring to Drive: A gripping account of one woman's home-grown courage that will speak to the fighter in all of us by Manal Al-Sharif is a book I requested from NetGalley and the book publishers and the review is voluntary.
This book had my emotions everywhere. It is sad, heartbreaking, full of encouragement, hope, made me angry, happy, and many emotions in between. There are a lot of stories about many women in Saudi Arabia, from their early life on. I am a nurse and I had a friend that was a nu
The recent announcement that Saudi women are finally! allowed to drive prompted me to read this memoir sooner rather than later.

Manal Al- Sharif has become (in)famous for getting arrested for driving while female. For most of us around the world, this is beyond ridiculous.
Well, show me a religion that doesn't discriminate, oppress women in some ways. Then add to that a tribal society, with extreme, fanatical religious beliefs and customs and you've got Saudi Arabia.

Besides Al-Sharif's troub
I simply cannot imagine for the life of me, what it must be like to be told that as a woman, you are not allowed to drive. It's something that we just see as a given right here, and something that is done automatically each day, without even considering that in other countries, these rights do not exist.
This book has certainly opened my eyes, to the hardships and battles that women across the globe face on a daily basis, sometimes even just to be recognised as human beings.
What is so remarkable
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing

There are no words to describe this book, it is simply put mind-blowing. Manal details her life from the moment she was born. She describes her poor upbringing and her struggle to break free from the restrictions that Saudi society enforce on women who dare to take control of their own lives. She talks about the doctrines that she absorbed from her environment when she was a young girl that made her believe she was unable to make her own decisions.

Most conservative religious societies have rule
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Daring to Drive is a blunt, honest, and captivating memoir that describes Manal al-Sharif's story. al-Sharif tells of her childhood growing up in Mecca where she was educated according to strict religious doctrines and her journey to being imprisoned for driving while female. While not a legal violation in Saudi Arabia, women driving goes against Saudi tradition and is subject to the religious police interfering. al-Sharif was imprisoned in a jail with terrible conditions while the outside news ...more
Abdullah Almuslem
This is a very interesting and a well told story

At the beginning, I hesitated to read this book, but once I started, I couldn't stop. I remember the Women2Drive campaign and the big attention it created at the time. I also remember reading things here and there about Manal Al-Sharif but other than the stuff I read, I did not know anything about her. I must say, I was shocked with the honesty and the complete openness in her story describing things considered very private matters and rarely share
Book Riot Community
Manal al-Sharif was a self-described religious radical during her adolescence. Then, as she received a college education and embarked on a ten-year career at Aramco, the Saudi oil company, her perspective began to shift. When she was harassed for chatting with a male colleague at work and forced to have her brother accompany her on a foreign business trip to act as her chaperone, something snapped. Manal realized that the cultural rules binding Saudi women were suffocating her. She became active ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
[4.4 stars] Until I read "City of Veils," a detective novel set in Saudi Arabia, I hadn't given much thought to the hobbled day to day existence of Saudi women. Daring to Drive is even more eye-opening. As a past religious fundamentalist who grew up poor, Al-Sharif, like all Saudi women (except perhaps royalty) encounters continuous discrimination. She is honest about her insular prejudices and how they changed. I appreciated that this wasn't a ghost-written book. Al-Sharif is an excellent story ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
While there were bits and pieces of Daring to Drive that were interesting, and Al-Sharif is certainly to be commended for her courage and passion to bring about positive changes for women in Saudi Arabia, overall this book just didn't grab my attention. (And I feel so bad for saying so!)

One reason is that the first half of the book, other than the initial few pages about her arrest, was really slow. She details growing up in Saudi Arabia, and while those are glimpses of her life there, I didn't
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I had the enormous privilege to meet Manal a couple of weeks ago, at the bookstore I manage. Thank goodness the world has strong, determined women like Manal! To be so young & to have gone through so much, standing up for a horrendous patriarchal world (as a whole, & in particular, Saudi Arabia), but still to be lovely, positive, & generous - a true hero. An inspiration for us all.

I know the Western world still has a long way to go in terms of the way women still get treated at the hands of men;
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writer, a female, was arrested and jailed for daring to drive publicly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The offense listed on her charge sheet: "Driving while female". If you think that's a joke, it's not. The book covers her formative years right up to "the drive" and its aftermath.

I like that the book gave a very detailed account of the prejudices and difficulties she faced growing up in a religiously conservative family and society. It provided the necessary backdrop to understand wh
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
I imagine that, like me, most women in the West take their right to drive for granted. I don't know that I ever really thought about it before, what it would be like to not be allowed to drive. What it would be like to be denied the right to get behind the wheel of a car and take myself to the doctor, to a friend's, to work, to a store. Not be allowed to do that, simply for being female. Yet, there are places in the world where women are routinely denied this right; it's more than just an inconv ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This autobiography is exactly what the subtitle says it is: A Saudi Woman's Awakening. Although she sounded a bit like a little rebel when young, she had some life experiences that clearly etched out a new path for her that led her to being an activist. She dared to go against tradition, both religious traditions and family ones and had to endure the fallout.

This was a sad story at times, but I enjoyed her survival spirit and her commitment to following her heart.

Liza Fireman
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unfortunately, I cannot say that the book surprised me, and not because what happened was despicable, just because I knew that this is how women are treated in some radical countries. Manal did a terrible crime, she *drove*, while being a female. "I had been pulled over by the traffic police for the “crime” of driving my brother’s car. The specific citation was “driving while female.”

She was arrested against the "laws,", most lawyers didn't want to speak with her, she couldn't even talk with a l
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My first 10/5 Star Review for 2017.

To call this book AMAZING really understates the impact of the book. This author doesn't hold back in her words and experiences. Absolutely powerful. So, I am going to do something that I really never do in a review. I am going to swear...This book is FUCKING amazing! If you are a woman, READ THIS BOOK! If you believe in women's rights need to be demanded in a country that treats women as though they are nothing more than livestock...READ THIS BOOK. It is easy
A woman's life in modern day Saudia Arabia is not blessed with freedom. The author is probably an example of why the religious authorities don't want to educate women or allow them employment opportunities. The story tells how she went from a young radicalised fundamentalist to start to see what is possible when firstly she went to uni then obtained a job for a relatively liberal (not really) oil company.
The restrictions on women was and remains baffling such as a woman can't leave the house wi
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Manali Al-Sharif grew up in Saudi Arabia and became radicalized to the ideals that took hold in her religion/country in her adolescence. But her education opened her eyes to the unfairness of her country's beliefs, particularly when it came to women's rights. She vowed to drive a car before her 30th birthday, and was thrown in jail for it. This is her story about her awakening and it is filled with some poignant thoughts on the future of her home country. Spectacular read. ...more
Carol Douglas
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Manal Al-Sharif tells of her amazing evolution from being a fundamentalist Saudi girl who destroyed her brother's music tapes to a woman who defied taboos and drove a car in Saudi Arabia. The regime arrested and jailed her, but fortunately she got out after a few dreadful days.

Al-Sharif was born in Mecca, in a rough area. (I never thought of Mecca as a city that had rough areas, but Rome does, so there's no reason Mecca wouldn't.) Her father was illiterate and her mother was barely literate. But
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Manal is one of those women that all of us renegades wish to someday be - someone who makes history. One of my very wise friends told me that history is like butter. It can be ingested basically, like on toast, just like with history it will necessarily be created with the passing of time. Or it can be baked, browned, broiled, burned and made into so many things. I don’t know if the analogy exactly works, but Manal makes history in that she orchestrates something monumentous, but she also create ...more
Abby Johnson
Manal Al-Sharif was put in a women's prison for daring to drive in Saudi Arabia, violating the cultural code but not any legal codes. She tells the story of that ordeal here, but she also relates her tough childhood and young adulthood in a country absolutely stifling to women. Even as a college graduate and an employee of a respected company, Al-Sharif could not rent her own apartment. This is an eye-opening and fascinating look into Saudi culture. ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I constantly needed to remind myself that this non fiction account is happening TODAY. In modern society. The story is horrifying.
Missy J
"Don't be afraid Fear won't prevent death, it prevents life." -Naguib Mahfouz.

"My problem isn't forgetting, my real problem is having excessive memories." - Ghazi Algosaibi.

This was a slow going book for me. Not because it was boring. Far from that, this book was very interesting and showed what life is like in Saudi Arabia. I already expected life to be conservative over there, but I wasn't prepared for all the details that just showed how super conservative and terrible it really is. A woman c
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