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Driving by Starlight

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police—secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence—she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it's illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choi ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  407 ratings  ·  83 reviews


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laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Leena is about to graduate high school...an exciting time for most girls, but Leena lives in Ridyah, Saudi Arabia, where women live lives dominated by and segregated from men. With her political activist father in jail, her mother struggling to keep them fed, and her best friend recklessly breaking all the rules, Leena has enough on her plate thinking about now instead of a future comprised of either fleeing the country to freedom, going to university on a scholarship, or getting married to a ma ...more
Alicia Herrington
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

A fascinating first person story about the life of a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia.
Librarian: Yes, I'll recommend It for purchase. In the school library community we talk a lot about the importance of providing students with books that allow them to spend time inside the thoughts and experiences of someone from another culture, To that end we see lots of books about minority communities and about people living in countries
...more
Bjorn Bringert
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read Driving by Starlight as a description of a theocratic and patriarchal dystopia, along the lines of The Handmaid's Tale, with the difference that it describes a current reality. I found this a fascinating and eye-opening look into a life experience that was totally unfamiliar to me. And I'm not even in the Young Adult target market.

Disclaimer: I know the author and I read an advance copy of the book.
...more
Erin Cogburn
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written story that offers an incredible and heartbreaking view into the lives of women on the other side of the world. It is the story of friendship in the midst of struggle, and of the power of hope to conquer darkness.
Liz Overberg
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-contemporary
A Saudi Arabian girl struggles to break free of the laws that limit young women in her country (and in her religion). Very educational and very feminist. I wish I had someone to discuss this with.
Raja
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I started this book, I felt transported immediately to another world. Not on this earth. Not in this century. Looking at a nether living space through shattered glasses. Such was the eerily low keyed shock as page by page, the author unleavens a strange society in our 21st century world.

Superficially, this novel is about 4 High School girls, in what I understand as events happening in an elite girls school in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Meaning that these are privileged and have connections. Outw
...more
Ms. Yingling
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Public library copy.

Very interesting story about girls living in Saudi Arabia and wanting more freedom than their government allows them. There is a lot of discussion about sex, so I am debating for middle school. Nothing... instructional, but still is quite a bit.
Savannah (forest_reader)
I read this book all of yesterday. It was incredibly fascinating because it opened my eyes to life in Ridyah, Saudi Arabia, where women’s lives are dominated and segregated by men. It was horrifying and eye-opening. The storyline was fine, though it resolved way too quickly at the end and I was left with lots of confusion and questions. And many of the characters felt underdeveloped. So I’m glad I read it for the cultural learning, but the story or characters weren’t anything special.
Raina
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I almost clicked the button to put this on my "dystopia" bookshelf.

In many ways, this world feels so very distant from my own. And yet, so breathlessly close.

Deracine tells the story of one young woman growing up in Saudi Arabia. Where the restrictions put on women are so extreme, the character states at one point that she's only met one young man her own age. Ever.
Obviously there's all kinds of fucked-up gender normativity stuff going on here, on top of the surface-level Handmaid's Tale of it
...more
Christina
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This is a great "coming of age" book set in Saudi Arabia. Leena and Mishy are a dynamic duo when a new American girl enters, threatening their friendship. This book highlights the highs and lows of high school including freedom, family, friendship and love. ...more
Jene
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“See, if you were a woman in Saudi Arabia, you dreamed of only three things. To marry a man you loved. To change Saudi Arabia. And to leave Saudi Arabia, at least for a little while.”
”We were all fighting one another for a window out of hell. Me against my sisters. It had to stop.”
A group of sixteen-year-old Saudi women are in their senior year of school. They glory in small rebellions against the Muttaween, the Saudi cultural police, wearing western clothing, getting ice cream in the middle of
...more
Chelsea
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2018
"Sometimes I wondered how my government could be so blind. It had made alcohol illegal, and so people got drunk every night on sid they made at home in bathtubs or carried around in Rausch sparkling apple-juice bottles. Zina, or fornificiation, was illegal, and so the average person got divorced at least two times, at least according to Hossein's client list. And as for joining them, I might not be allowed to go to university without my guardian's consent, but I could buy a gun in Batha with jus ...more
D Venkatesan
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anat Deracine has hit the right buttons and proclaimed her arrival with a bang as a writer.

Wielding a gifted pen, she has played with so unerring a hand on the quivering heart-strings of her readers. But how in the world did she achieve an improbable feat of turning a largely social narrative into a page-turner? The answer may lie in the fact that her book has many elements of a social melodrama and in retrospect, I now believe, an enigmatic thriller. On the one hand, there are deft touches on
...more
Laura Hanby
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book about the lives of young women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the restrictions that they face on a daily basis.

I mostly picked this book to learn more about the culture, and it is packed full of that information. You learn about the culture of women and the restrictions placed on them by the government in Riyadh. Those restrictions include having to be fully veiled in the presence of men not related to them and not being able to pursue education without the permission of a male
...more
Lillian
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual rating 4.3

I learned so much from this book. Written beautifully with incredibly rich world building and cultural immersion this is a truly amazing novel. When reading this book the idea that this is some type of fiction where we live in a society that controls women so completely is terrifying. I had to keep reminding myself over and over again that this is real, this is an actual country, and this is based on how women really live their lives. Anat Deracine captures the warm glow and ra
...more
Berkeley High School Library
Leena and Mishael have been friends forever. They've also grown up rebelling against the laws of Saudi Arabia (particularly against females). Now, as seniors, their futures as women are closing in on them, the restrictions imposed on them are suffocating. Each, in their own way, tries to deal with the many roadblocks that threaten their friendship, their families and the other girls in their school.

Despite the specific challenges that they encounter as young women in Saudi Arabia, their experien
...more
Karina
Rating: 5 Stars ★★★★★
Driving By Starlight was such a powerful and moving story! Highly recommend this book, its phenomenal!!

This novel follows Leena, Mishail, & her friends in Saudi Arabia as they rebel + fight for their own futures!!

There's just so much to this incredible story from friendship, family, love, and forging your own path, this novel has easily become one of my all-time favorites!!
...more
Lupita
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing take of ingenuity and resilience in a life where every freedom and experience is overseen and controlled by men. Leena's will and intelligence let her survive a life that is filled with thorns and tribulations. It's a wonderful read and shes uses the culture and it's own religious rules to find freedom. ...more
Nicholas Lim
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully-drawn characters and a story that grips from the start - I loved this book. The writing is at times beautiful and spare and folkloric. I began reading for entertainment, continued through sheer enjoyment of the writing, and ended the last chapter wishing I could find out what happened next. Some new understanding of what it is like to grow up as a young girl under an oppressive legal code remains with me.
Prita Sethuram
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A masterful and compelling narrative set in the heart of Saudi Arabia. The author has captured with artistic finesse, female teenage angst and painful yearning for unconditional love and friendship.
The author has also woven into the narrative a yearning for physical and emotional freedom from a society ruled by a hawkish cultural police.
A must- read.
Kudos to the author!
Donna
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Growing up in Riyadh is hard; especially when your father is in jail and your best friend’s father is responsible for putting him there. Options for young women are very limited, and the best option for rebellious Leena and Mishail may be marriage.
Lynn
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and absolutely turned a lot of my own conceptions upside down. Set in Saudi Arabia just after the Spring Uprisings in 2011. Leena and her best friend revel in small rebellions but the stakes are growing higher every day as the girls near graduation and the huge decisions that will be made about their futures. A new girl and her brother add unforeseen cracks in their friendship as both girls grow desperate to find some way to control their own futures.

A fascinating look at women's lives
...more
Katie Peach
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Driving by Starlight" is a well written novel about a group of high school girls living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Leena is such a great character and I found the story to be captivating. It is an eye-opening book about the realities young women face in Saudi Arabia. ...more
Ava G - no longer a rainbow rowell stan
I need a bit to gather my thoughts. Come back later.
HOLLY
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and recommend it! It is a breathtaking read that shows the struggles of a teenage girl, Leena, in Saudi Arabia, as she searches for the freedom to grow into a women in control of her own future.
Bailey the BookNerd
I kind of judged this book by its cover and didn't want to pick it up, but someone recommended it and I was like "okay, sure". Turns out it's really good and about girls in Saudi Arabia. It's awesome and definitely speaks GIRL POWER!! ...more
Ashley
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was a fascinating read. You hear about what happens in the Middle East but you don’t really read about it. This book really puts it all into perspective how much freedom we have in the US. Women in Saudi Arabia can’t do much without a man present. Take into account Leena’s father is in jail just makes it 10x harder for her. Her guardian is her headmistress’s 11 yr old son.

I found this book deeply moving and a must read for everyone. This isn’t just another girl wants to move away from her l
...more
Thaya Gnaneswaran
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to read to get to know what is happening on the other side of the world in comparison to our westernized world, where most people take things for granted. You have enlightened us in regards to how Saudi Arabian women live their lives and how they depend on men even when it comes to purchasing groceries. While reading this book I truly felt for the teenage population who wanted to explore their individuality but had their wings tightened. Overall it's an awesome book! ...more
Brooke Davis
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was a hard novel to read. Life for high school girls in modern Saudi Arabia is tough. I found it eye opening to learn about the complex restrictions and laws that impact every part of these girls lives.
Jennifer Thompson-Thalasinos
This was an interesting book. Two girls coming of age in Saudi Arabia, a country that does not allow women to drive. As Leena and Mishie navigate their restrictive culture knowing an arranged marriage likely awaits the both of them, they listen to forbidden music and get Western-style clothing. Leena even drives late at night with the boy she’s secretly seeing. This book shows us no matter the culture, teenage girls are teenage girls with similar dreams, styles and preferences no matter what cul ...more
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