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You Exist Too Much

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,820 ratings  ·  458 reviews
On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sen ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 9th 2020 by Catapult
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,820 ratings  ·  458 reviews


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Roxane
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hypnotically meandering narrative structure. Deeply compelling protagonist. Lovely sentences. Sexy, in it's own way. ...more
Richard Derus
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In a word: WOW

So, okay. Book review of YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is up on my blog. It's too long to fit here. Suffice to say that a 30-something bisexual Palestinian-American woman tells me my life in beautiful, painfully honest sentences. I read this book twice and that is (as y'all're aware) an increasingly rare occurrence for me, at my age and with my TBR approaching mid-four figures. The reason I decided that I needed a second trip through the book was simple: I was so completely shattered by the h
...more
Hussein Baher
Apr 03, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Before being sent an arc for this book i remember coming across it and being excited for the lgbt pali representation...
Not even halfway through and this book manages to strike every single way to disrespect sexuality and mental illness,
brimming with stereotypes and unrealistic representations. This is extremely harmful towards bisexuals specifically, making them labeled as "love addicts" going around falling in love with every person they meet and getting "obsessed" with them, jumping from a
...more
JulesGP
It’s always frustrating when a blurb promises one thing but the book does not follow thru. You Exist intrigued me because it was seemingly a story of culture clash, a young American of Palestinian descent who struggles between the expectations of her Arab heritage and her quest to come into her own, an out and proud bisexual woman.

Unfortunately, 80% of the book does nothing of the sort. The novel is told in first person present tense and reads like a journal that mostly details the mc’s college
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The background of the novel is a woman born to Palestinian parents, who were forced to relocate in 1967. They have family in Lebanon, West Bank, and Jordan, but live in America. Her parents had a volatile relationship and her mother has often treated her like competition or an inconvenience, telling her "You exist too much" when she responds emotionally, especially when she starts trying to come out to her. The refusal to understand her daughter as anything but straight is one backbone to the no ...more
Anna Luce
4 ½ stars (rounded up)

“It is a bizarre and unsettling feeling, to exist in a liminal state between two realms, unable to attain full access to one or the other.”


Although I'd intended to read You Exist Too Much I nearly didn't after reading a really negative review for it, one that was very critical of Zaina Arafat's depiction of bisexuality. Luckily, my mother read this first and recommended it to me. While I believe that the gender and sexual orientation of a reviewer should not bias their opi
...more
Michelle
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
"You exist too much." These are the words of a mother to our unnamed narrator. It is ironic that she would choose these words to berate her child considering that her character comes off too full of her own self and her own existence. She really sees everything as it pertains to her and how it would affect her. There is no compassion or empathy there. Not especially for her daughter. Instead, she blames the narrator for her sacrifice. The life she would have had had she not fallen for her father ...more
lark benobi
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
There is a gentle sweetness to this story that surprised me given the subject matter. The novel doesn't demand too much of the reader. The language is a little high-school-essayish, and in places sounds so rhetorically flat that it gives the effect of being narrated by a non-native speaker, someone who learned the language in a classroom. Maybe this is the intended effect.

For example, here are a couple of randomly chosen short paragraphs--

1) "A week had passed since the restaurant incident. Any
...more
ilsa➹
Jul 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star, aoc-read
i sincerely DON'T RECOMMEND this book and actually REALLY REALLY SUGGEST YOU DON'T PICK THIS UP.

you will gain, genuinely, nothing from reading this book.
there is no plot. there is just tonnes of love interests who come and go, a unnecessarily harsh commentary on eating disorders (topics like that need a LOT more attention and not be shoved in there and talked about so aggressively and carelessly)

i don't think i care enough about this book to hate it. but
i have a strong dislike towards this boo
...more
Tzipora
First off, I have to say this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I love Middle Eastern lit and obviously as a queer woman who has been begging and pleading for more queer women’s stories finding this one was amazing. I’ve been telling people about it and recommending it for so many months. And as a Jewish woman who reads more Israeli lit than most, I’ve been making the effort to read more Palestinian authors. There are some scenes th ...more
Nada Elshabrawy
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
shockingly beautiful.
George Abraham
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't help but feel, as a queer (bi/pansexual) Palestinian myself, that this is a book I (and so many in my community, I suspect) have needed for a long, long time. While Arafat's narrator does a good job at making the Palestinian aspects of this narrative accessible to those outside of our community, it never detracts from the novel or comes off as over-explanatory; this is a book for us, yes, though others are not excluded from the convo. Here is a representation of diasporic queerness, trau ...more
Allison
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is a novel following an unnamed narrator back and forth through time, across the United States and the Middle East. Our narrator is a Palestinian American queer woman grappling with a “love addiction,” a complex relationship with her mother, and countless destructive relationships. The novel follows her as she goes into treatment for love addiction. I can see her being an unlikeable character for sure, but I was helplessly rooting for her to face her demons, set boundaries wit ...more
Catapult
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For fans of Garth Greenwell and Weike Wang, You Exist Too Much is a startling debut novel of desire and doubleness following the life of a young Palestinian American woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities.
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell
This sounds both heartbreaking and seriously amazing
Amerie
July's selection is You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat!
📚
In You Exist Too Much, Zaina Arafat takes us on the immersive journey of one Palestinian-American queer girl's search for love, identity, and ultimately, her mother's approval. I watched with anxiety as this imperfect--at times self-sabotaging--main character fought through her "love addiction." I rooted for her and hurt for her as she tried to find her way through one bad decision after another. The main character, whose name is never reve
...more
Lou
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sense of shame: “You exist too much,” she tells her daughter. Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East― ...more
Casey the Reader
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, lgbtq
Thanks to Catapult for the free advance copy of this book.

YOU EXIST TOO MUCH's unnamed narrator struggles with a lifetime of self-destructive relationships, beginning with her abusive mother. After yet another relationship implodes, she checks into an alternative therapy retreat to seek treatment for what's been labeled her "love addiction."

I have rather mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's quite readable - I found myself drawn in to the story even when I wasn't sure I liked t
...more
Lindsay Loson
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads, netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley and Catapult for this ARC, out now!

"I know that by letting her in when I'm in need, I tie myself to her again, this gaping vulnerability nothing less than the rope." / "In receiving love from others, it will always be hers I crave most."


Though it took me a little while to make my way through this book, I really really enjoyed it. Our unnamed protagonist is a queer woman who is not sure of who she is, what she wants, or where to call home, and I connected with her on a
...more
McKenzie Rakes
May 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Based on the description of this book I was expecting something much different, and I think that’s where my trouble began. The blurb read as a coming of age, culture clash novel in which the main character finds herself along the way. What I read felt more shallow and dramatic then I had expected.

The unnamed narrator, in what I read as an effort to make up for her treacherous relationship with her mother, is obsessed with attention and approval from women. We follow her series of romantic encou
...more
Barbara
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an interesting novel in that I did NOT like the main character yet could not stop reading. She is a train wreck and self-sabotaging young woman who is struggling to define herself, to find herself in the world.

Author Zaina Arafat tells the story of a Palestinian woman who is struggling to find her identity as a Palestinian born woman, living most of her life in America. Arafat’s chapters are more like vignettes told in narrative form of a rudderless un-named narrator. The chapters skip I
...more
Alison Hardtmann
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
There is a lot going on in this book. The unnamed narrator is Palestinian-American and she spends her summers with family in Amman, Jordan and in Nablus, on the West Bank. Her parents are immigrants, her mother is unpredictable and possibly mentally ill. She's bisexual and struggles with various self-destructive behaviors. She's not good at relationships, but needs to be in one. As I said, it's a lot for a single novel and it seems to be part of a slow change in publishing where characters can b ...more
Bandit
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
This sounded really intriguing. Plus it checked so many of the boxes. For one thing, great for international reading, first experience with a Palestinian author, the book is set mostly in US (where the author is now based) with prolonged visits to the Middle East. Plus the protagonist is queer, bisexual to be specific, which creates for all sorts of cultural stereotype clashes. So anyway, there were certain expectations going in and at fist the book absolutely delivered. And then, as it went on, ...more
Cayla Eagon
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
You Exist Too Much Doesn't Do Enough

Zaina Arafat’s debut novel You Exist Too Much reads more like a personal memoir recounted by (if I’m not mistaken) an unnamed first-person narrator whose namelessness suggests we already know her. This novel offers an unrepresented voice in literature in the story of a Palestinian-American queer woman who presumably struggles to accept her own dichotomous identities and carry on successful romantic relationships due to unresolved tension with her mother. The p
...more
Jade
Sometimes I read a book and I rush to write a review, other times I have to let the story sink in before I feel ready to write down my thoughts. You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat was one of the latter, and I have found myself thinking about it more after finishing than I did while reading. This book reads more like a memoir than a novel, content, style, and structure wise, and personally I became more invested once I decided to read it as a memoir rather than a novel.

The book follows the though
...more
Asia J
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This really really hurt.
Lima Al-azzeh
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highlighted great big passages throughout. My heart hurts in the best way and never have I felt more understood as a Palestinian.

It’s interesting to read reviews calling the mother a narcissist. I see that as another cultural conflict: In the ME, domestic life is a matriarchal domain, societal life is patriarchal. So even inherently within the culture mothers are basically relegated to being society’s middle managers, wielding what limited powers and freedoms they have over their children. They
...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Told in nonlinear vignettes, this plotless book is a deeply immersive character examination. Our unnamed narrator is navigating her identity and the only plot per se is a reflective spell around her treatment in a new-age clinic for “love addiction”—it’s full of sensual scenes and moments in which she grows into a confidence with her sexual identity, geographic and cultural tensions that leave her feeling pulled in different directions, and her grappling with a lifelong struggle for maternal app ...more
Lupita Reads
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
“I burst out the door and spotted her in the distance ahead. I tried to catch up. “Mama, please,” I cried. “I’m sorry. I won’t. I’m not! I promise I’ll stop!” By the time I caught up to her, I could see a tear streaming down her cheek. I could think of nothing more shameful — why was I doing this to her? At the time I thought the same thing: she should’ve had better. She didn’t deserve this at all.”

YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is a title that has stuck with me, weeks after setting it down. It centers an u
...more
Hannah // Book Nerd Native
This book started out really strong for me...and then started to become very repetitive and frustrating. I understand that this book is largely about addiction (love addiction and obsession), and I understand the redundancy and cyclic nature of addiction. I think that the author made an intentional choice to demonstrate how addiction continues in this constant toxic cycle, until the addict can really reckon with themselves and find healing. That aside, the narrative became exhausting and difficu ...more
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Play Book Tag: You Exist Too Much - Zaina Arafat 3/5 1 11 Feb 07, 2021 08:29PM  

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