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A Woman Is No Man

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  32,761 ratings  ·  4,339 reviews
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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Harper (first published February 8th 2019)
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 ·  32,761 ratings  ·  4,339 reviews

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Etaf Rum
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'd like to thank everyone who's taken the time to read. Regardless of whether you loved the book or hated it, thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here.
Nilufer Ozmekik
This book like a gun blast to my chest, ripped my emotions and scatter them all over the places.
This book made me sooo angry, this book made me cry, this book made me curse, hate the characters, made me feel sorry for the unfairness, inequality, ignorance !
There was not any exaggeration, there are too many women in the world suffering the rules from patriarchal culture, customs, illogical traditions made them feel vulnerable, worthless and weak. They never know how important their lives, how to
Will Byrnes
I was born without a voice, one cold, overcast day in Brooklyn, New York. No one ever spoke of my condition. I did not know I was mute until years later, when I’d opened my mouth to ask for what I wanted and realized no one could hear me.
Deya Ra’Ad, a Brooklyn teenager, had been raised by people who guarded old-world beliefs and customs. It was expected of her that she would agree to marry one of the Muslim suitors who passed her family’s muster, and begin producing babies as soon as possible,
Leena Weddy
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK. Holy shit. To be completely honest, even as a Palestinian Muslim who has spent her entire life unapologetically refusing to abide by patriarchal norms, the concept of this book scared me. So honest and raw, but so public. Muslims & all POC know too well that you don’t air your dirty laundry. You don’t talk about all your shit in front of outsiders. Even if it comes at the expense of your community’s advancement, you deny that there are any deeply rooted problems, for fear of ...more
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This Book is No Literary Masterpiece

A Woman Is No Man definitely did not come close to meeting my expectations. While the subject matter is indeed worthy (the oppression of women in the Arab culture) and the story full of potential (the voiced experiences of three generations of Palestinian women) I feel I have just read something of sub-par quality.

From the first chapter, I could not shed the impression that I was reading a mediocre YA novel, not literary fiction. This book has a distinct
Justin Tate
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The plot isn't creative and the writing dexterity is limited, but it gives voice to a largely voiceless population. Arab women so rarely show up in literature that hearing a story--any story--from their perspective feels fresh and exciting, even when the general premise is tired.

I can appreciate, too, that this isn't just about Arab women, it also seems to be written directly for them. One of the leads is forced to sneak around to read books because it isn't culturally appropriate. She laments
Diane S ☔
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
A look inside an embedded patriarchal culture. Isra loves to read, books show her a wider world than the insular one where she lives. Custom, however, dictates that women cannot continue with their schooling but must marry instead. When a Palestinian family, one who now make their home in New York, travel back to Palestine to find a bride for their eldest son, Isra finds herself married. She wants to fall in love, to be loved and to have more freedom. She is hoping in America to find a three.

Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok

1.5 stars

wow this just completely missed the mark huh

I'm so starved for any kind of Arab representation in fiction, let alone ownvoices Muslim Arab representation, so I jumped at the chance to read this when the audiobook popped up on Scribd. And oh boy was I disappointed.

This book's biggest weakness is without a doubt its lack of nuance. I don't want to be the person that's like oh the oppression you represented in your book isn't complicated enough. I'm sure women did and still do
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Let me begin by saying that after my last experience with an internet famous "author" (term used as loosely as possible since she didn’t even write the thing, but failed to give credit where credit was due until being called out about it), there is zero chance I would have ever read this. Unfortunately, I’m not super hip on the times and as soon as I saw this was going to be a Book of the Month selection I immediately put a library
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a heartbreaking story of three generations of Palestinian-American women in one family..who have been oppressed by their culture. Trying to find a voice in their world dominated by men.
This was a deeply affecting novel, a fantastic debut..and I loved it!
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those stories that will dig in deep and make you want to scream at these cultures that undervalue women.
We know we are different -physically - but that’s where it stops.
Putting my anger aside, this is a beautifully written story of 2 Women who have migrated to America from Palestine and a daughter born in America.
The struggle of upholding traditional customs while assimilating into a new culture.

Rum captures voices of traditions, secrets and shame; Loneliness and depression. She
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book and you have no idea where to start because your emotions are all over the place? Am I right? But I also want to write my review now because my emotions are fresh, and this book was an emotional ride from start to finish.

Told in two past timelines with different narrators, we mostly hear from eighteen-year-old Deya, and her mother, Isra. We also occasionally hear from Fareeda, Deya’s grandmother and Isra’s mother-in-law.

The family is Palestinian, and the story
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
I think this book is about how women are oppressed? Maybe? It’s mentioned only 20 times on every page, so it’s a little unclear.

I hope the sarcasm there is as transparent as this book’s message. Bad, heavy-handed writing reads like what a beginner creative writing student produces. HERE IS MY THEME, it announces. HERE IS MY MESSAGE. MY CHARACTERS TAKE A BACK SEAT TO MY SOCIAL COMMENTARY. Not sure how this has such a high rating on Goodreads, or anywhere, for that matter. Bad bad bad.
”Where I come from, voicelessness is the condition of my gender, as normal as the bosoms on a woman’s chest, as necessary as the next generation growing inside her belly.”

”Where I come from, we’ve learned to conceal our condition. We’ve been taught to silence ourselves, that our silence will save us. It is only now, many years later, that I know this to be false. Only now, as I write this story, do I feel my voice coming.”

”You’ve never heard this story before. No matter how many books you’
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Siobhan Jones

Before I tell you about this book, I have to tell you a little about its author. Etaf Rum is one of the most thoughtful, dedicated #bookstagrammers in the game. For a few years now, she’s been sharing great literature on her Instagram feed, @booksandbeans, and tirelessly advocating for up-and-coming authors. When I found out she was writing a book of her own, I was pleased for her. And when I read it and found it to be really, really good, I was completely elated.

Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: march-2019-reads
Prepare to feel conflicted.
If you liked my last inner dialogue review, you're in luck because this is going to be a long mess. (My thoughts that is.)

Let's talk a little bit about me. I'm 37, white, of Russian/German/French/Swedish/Irish/Canadian descent, born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I'm a progressive, have a graduate degree and am part of the middle class. (Whatever that means anymore.) The reason for the bio is that I could not be further away from the characters in this book. Besides being
Amy Bruestle
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
“On her knees on the floor, she could barely breathe. Blood leaked from her nose and down her chin. But she wiped her face and told herself she would take a beating every night if it meant standing up for her girls.”

Every now and then a book comes along that impacts me so much it changes who I am as a reader and as a person. It leaves me reeling, it haunts me, it compels me to dig deeper, to stop everyone I know and tell them “if you only read one book this month, THIS IS THE BOOK YOU NEED TO
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pressure. I can’t even conceive of the pressure immigrant Arab women must live under. Rum is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants herself, and like her character Deya Ra’Ad she was born and raised in Brooklyn in a Palestinian-Arab enclave. The pressure to maintain Palestinian customs and its patriarchal culture is suffocating. Rum has chosen to expose the burden this places on women, despite the fact that it plays into certain anti-Arab stereotypes.

Rum tells the stories of three women. There
Aug 08, 2018 added it
Shelves: i-own-it, arc, 2018
Disclaimer: I received an early review copy of this book from the author. However, all thoughts & opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

This novel follows three generations of Palestinian women in one family. Isra, our main character, is married off to Adam and taken to live with his family in Brooklyn, NY. Her new mother-in-law, Fareeda, is deeply enmeshed in the patriarchal ways of their culture and pushes those same beliefs on Isra—beliefs like a woman is only good for
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The cover, title and preface of A Woman Is No Man are very striking and I was drawn into the pages immediately. Set in Brooklyn, the novel is about the voiceless women in a Palestinian immigrant family.

The story felt familiar, I have read so many novels about the oppressed lives of women living within insular communities - Orthodox Jewish, Morman, Saudi Arabian etc. But Rum has created the story anew. She captures the trapped doom of Isra perfectly. I rooted for her and her daughters while
Lark Benobi
Jul 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: she-2019, 2019, palestine
Oppressively earnest. And clearly not for me. I got irritated from the first paragraph, a paragraph that includes the--i'm sorry--completely portentous and unforgivable sentence But we will never tell you this of course; even though the narrator has just told me this thing that she "of course" will never tell me.

There are so many readers here on GR whom I admire, and who have the capability of rising above the actual words on the page and discovering the story the author meant to write.

But for
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Nope. Had to DNF. This was wrong on so many levels. It starts with a premise I was excited about, looking at the Palestinian diaspora but disappointed on all levels. The characters are caricatures, there is no subtlety just hammer the heads of the readers with the themes of misogyny and the plight of women in Muslim/Arab American families, but falls back on the worst stereotypes to convey the point. these are issues I want explored but I could not connect with the tone and voices the author ...more
Apr 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: islam
Can we get a book centred around Muslim characters that's not about forced marriages, terrorism etc? Or are we just going to stick with the same narrative that we are "backwards" and "oppressed" to reinforce the wests perception of us?
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good lord, this is a powerful little book. I listened to it, and it’s narrated by three different women, and something about hearing the emotion in their voices as the dialogue unfolded made things much more intense than if I had just read the words off the page. It’s a story about a culture I’m honestly not very familiar with, but boy did a learn a lot listening to this. It’s fiction, sure, but it opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know much about. It made me more empathetic and understanding. ...more
may ❀
book #2 for #ReadTheMiddleEast readathon

to say i am conflicted is to put it lightly

i have A LOT of thoughts but fjkldajfkal will i write this review or not????? stay tuned to find out!!!
Jessica Jeffers
What an absolutely remarkable novel.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tob2020-longlist
You’ve never heard this story before. No matter how many books you’ve read, how many tales you know, believe me: no one has ever told you a story like this one.

This is simply not true and to read this in the prologue makes me think that I am about to read something unique and powerful but sadly, this tale is so old and so common.

(view spoiler)
Jennifer Blankfein
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
. This is an incredible story about three generations of Palestinians Who have come to the United States for a better life. A powerful story about women and family - it definitely tugs on the heartstrings...Gender Roles, Arranged Marriages and the Challenges Immigrant Families Face; A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum Captures the Love and Pain in these Arab Women’s Limitations. READ FULL REVIEW HERE...
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“A Woman is No Man’ is an examination on the cycle/chain of dysfunction. Debut Author Etaf Rum states in her prologue that no one of her background, an Arab/Palestine first generation immigrant has told their story because their culture is one of silence. Rum writes a story that is not autobiographical, but one that contains events that happened to her fellow neighbors. As an Arab, their culture is one that men rule, women accept their diminished status, and domestic violence is accepted. In an ...more
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