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A Woman Is No Man
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MAY 2020 - A Woman Is No Man > DISCUSSION - A WOMAN IS NO MAN : Part III

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message 1: by Sunny, Founder & Host (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sunny Maria (sunnynacia) | 12 comments Mod
This is the discussion post for those who have read and finished PART THREE of the book (meaning you have finished the book because part 3 is the last one) If you haven’t yet, please know that the questions and comments will contain spoilers.
You are also free to reply to other people, interact, agree or disagree as long as you keep it respectful (no hate speech or aggressiveness will be tolerated).

Keeping all of this in mind, here are the questions !!! We hope you can have a lively discussion (the questions will also be up on Goodreads if you want to post a longer answer on there) :

- Were you shocked by the revelation of how Deya’s parents died ?

- Do you agree with Fareeda’s reasons for keeping the truth from the girls about their parents’ death ?

- Who do you think had the most notable character development ?

- How much empathy should we, the readers, give Adam and the other men in the story considering they are the ones being abusive ?

- How did you interpret the ending of the novel ?

clau (clxxdia) | 1 comments Personally, I was quite shocked when we got to know how Deya's parents died. I really thought by the first meetings between them in Palestine and the way he behaved in the first months of their marriage that he would be somewhat more understanding with Isra at her struggles in New York.
For Fareeda's reasons for keeping the truth from the girls, I understand partially the desire to protect the girls from the horrible events but in the end, they deserved the truth. Also, it makes me think, in a sense, were they really doing it to protect the girls or to protect their image of their dad? I am a little bit in conflict between those two ideas.
I would say Isra has truly had the most notable character development. Being in a completely different country, culture, living with a group of strangers, and constantly seeking their approval had a toll on her mental health and still, after all the abuse she endured, rebelled at the very end.
Regarding the men in the story, I do not know what to say. The fact that the expectations and the moral bar for women were way higher than for men does not surprise me, but still, I don't feel comfortable judging and stereotyping men in Islam/Arab culture. The author herself was raised as part of this community and decided to give this particular narrative to the male characters, so I think it is important that we listen to the reason why.
The end really left me with a bittersweet taste. It was really refreshing to see Daya take fully the control of her life and for her grandparent's to admit they were wrong, but knowing all the suffering that came before in order to get to this final makes me so angry. It is really a book that leaves you thinking about everything you know about the importance of tradition and how oppression differs from culture to target women.

Jennifer | 2 comments Dhriti I agree with pretty much everything you articulated.

This book really shines a light on the systematic sexist hierarchy that exists and how these women obviously feel either stuck or as if there is no other option. That being said the women also seem to perpetuate the abuse and neglect of safety. The men are stuck in set roles as well, leaving everyone with few options. It’s a confusing and complicated story. I have been thinking about it a lot and I still can’t get my mind totally around it. I don’t think it’s for me to understand though as I am a white liberal woman in America. This book expanded my view of women and the cultures they stem from and forced me to remember that not every person has the same life experience that I do.

I found this book to be so sad but also hopeful. I still don’t know what to make of the ending. Was it just in isras head? Was she imagining what she wishes she would have done? Did she actually leave and then get caught by Adam and that’s when he killed her? The fact that the book ends on this hopeful note but we know that it doesn’t actually end there is heartbreaking. Isra was the first to step against the grain but ended up paying for it. In doing so she was able to pave the way for her daughters and Sarah to be able to move out on their own.

message 4: by Sofie (new)

Sofie  | 1 comments I have finished the book just a few minutes ago, and I really need a moment before I can move on! I absolutely loved the ending! As you guys said, it ends with a hopeful note, although you know it does not end well for Isra. I really like this style of storytelling and have never read anything like this before. How I interpreted the ending was that somehow he found them and that's how she died. It also did not cross my mind that it might have been in Isra's head, but I think this is also quite plausible.

I don't agree with Fareeda's choice to keep the truth from the girls, but I do understand her decision. How can you tell 4 young girls that their father killed their mother? But we know that Deya knew something was wrong all those years, and it really broke my heart when she found out.

I was actually quite shocked to find out how Isra and Adam died. It did feel like the accident story did not make sense, but this was not what I expected, and it broke my heart.

As far as empathy for Adam, I truly feel no empathy for his actions. I did feel bad for him for all the pressure he was under, but the beating and the overall way he treated Isra, I really can't justify that.

I enjoyed reading this novel very much! I don't think I would have read this if it weren't for this group, so I am really glad I joined and I'm looking forward to next month! I like reading your interpretations and comparing them to my thoughts of the book.

message 5: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele Pugh | 3 comments I've already returned the ebook to the library, so I'm going from memory now about the ending. I remember a two part ending - one for Isra's storyline in the late 90's, and one for Deya's storyline in the late 2000's.

I'll start with Isra's story ending, which was heartbreaking! She worked up the courage to escape Adam's (and Fareeda's) abuse with her daughters. Hooray! Isra navigated the subway by herself for the first time (similar to teenage Deya's first solo subway experience that we read about earlier in the book). The train arrives in the station, but we have to remember back to one of Deya's childhood memories of being in a subway station with Isra and meeting her father Adam as he stepped off a train. I believe we are to infer that Adam intercepted Isra as she was trying to escape, and that he beat her to death that night back at their house, angry that he caught her.

Deya's ending is much more uplifting and provides me with hope. I think I like that she is staying at home with her grandparents to attend college. By staying at home, Deya will be a positive role model to her three younger sisters and hopefully influence them to pursue college. However, Deya will also be a positive influence to her grandparents and help change their views on the value of women. We are already starting to see Fareeda and Khaled soften their viewpoints as the book wraps up. I think this is why Sarah did not want Deya to run away - by staying close to the family, Deya will be able to positively influence them and finally break the cycle of trauma.

I agree with Jennifer on this point - Isra and Sarah helped clear the path for Deya. Isra unfortunately suffered much abuse and lost her life in her efforts to break the cycle. Sarah had to struggle on her own for awhile, lost her relationship with her family, but ultimately came out ok. What happened with Isra and Sarah influenced Deya's childhood and adolescence and ultimately helped convince Fareeda and Khaled that college rather than marriage was the right path for Deya. This concept of slowly clearing a path for our successors also appears in Colson Whitehead's novel Underground Railroad. In that book, the Underground Railroad was built (figuratively and literally), little by little, by the everyone who had traveled along it previously.

I agree with Sofie, I don't know if would have picked this book on my own to read. But I'm very glad that I did read it, and I have enjoyed everyone's thoughts and analysis so far!

Hafza Jafar (cinnabonandbooks) | 1 comments Heyy! I'd love it if y'all could read my review of the book!

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