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A Woman Is No Man A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
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“It’s the loneliest people who love books the most.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman is No Man
“A real choice doesn't have conditions. A real choice is free.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Too often being happy means being passive or playing it safe. There's no skill required in happiness, no strength of character, nothing extraordinary. Its discontent that drives creation the most--passion, desire, defiance. Revolutions don't come from a place of happiness. If anything, I think it's sadness, or discontent at least, that's at the root of everything beautiful.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Perhaps that was why she had spent her childhood with a book in front of her face, trying to make sense of her life through stories. Books were her only reliable source of comfort, her only hope.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“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 opened my mouth to ask for what I wanted and realized no one could hear me.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“What’s meant for you will reach you even if it’s beneath two mountains, and what’s not meant for you won’t reach you even if it’s between your two lips”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“That was the real reason abuse was so common, Isra thought for the first time. Not only because there was no government protection, but because women were raised to believe they were worthless, shameful creatures who deserved to get beaten, who were made to depend on the men who beat them.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“But maybe that’s the way of life, Fareeda thought. To understand things only after they had passed, only once it was too late.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“It's the loneliest people who love books the most...it was the opposite of loneliness, too, like there were too many people around me, forced connections, that I needed a little isolation to think on my own, to be my own person.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“It took more than one woman to do things differently. It took a world of them.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“She often wondered how many people felt this way, spellbound by words, wishing to be tucked inside a book and forgotten there. How many people were hoping to find their story inside, desperate to understand. And yet Deya still felt alone in the end, no matter how many books she read, no batter how many tales she told herself.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Everything we draw into our life is a mirror of our thought patterns and beliefs. In a way, we can control the outcome of our future just by thinking more positively and visualizing only the things we want for ourselves.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“But now, reading her books, she was beginning to find a different kind of love. A love that came from inside her, one she felt when she was all alone, reading by the window. And through this love, she was beginning to believe, for the first time in her life, that maybe she was worthy after all.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Fareeda knew that no matter what any woman said, culture could not be escaped. Even if it meant tragedy. Even if it meant death. At least she was able to recognize her role in their culture, own up to it, instead of sitting around saying “If only I had done things differently.” It took more than one woman to do things differently. It took a world of them. She had comforted herself with these thoughts so many times before, but tonight they only filled her with shame.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“She knew that the suffering of women started in the suffering of men, that the bondages of one became the bondages of the other.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“She knew she had to teach them how to love themselves, that this was the only way they had a chance at happiness. Only she didn't see how she could when the world pressed shame into women like pillows into their faces. She wanted to save her daughters from her fate, but she couldn't seem to find a way out.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Words could do extraordinary things, but sometimes they were not enough.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“I can tell my own story now, she thinks. And then she does.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“She often wondered how many people felt this way, spellbound by words, wishing to be tucked inside a book and forgotten there.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Her powerlessness even comforted her somehow. Knowing that she couldn't change things - that she didn't have a choice - made living it more bearable.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“And yet even as she heard this old voice in her head, she could still feel the shift that had just occurred inside her. The old voice was no longer strong enough to hold her back—Deya knew this now. She knew this voice that she had always taken as the absolute truth was actually the very thing preventing her from achieving everything she wanted. The voice was the lie, and all the things she wanted for herself were the truth, perhaps the most important truth in the world. And because of this she had to stand up for herself. She had to fight. She had to. The fight was worth everything if it meant finally having a voice.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“That to understand someone, you had to listen to the words they didn’t say, had to watch them closely.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Sadness was like a cancer, she thought, a presence that staked it's claim so quietly you might not even notice it until it was too late. She hoped her other daughters didn't see.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“If every woman refused to get married after a woman died at the hands of her husband, then no one would ever get married.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“People flee to America from war-torn countries every day. Some are Arabs. Some are Muslims. Some are both, like us. But we could live here for the rest of our lives and never be Americans. You think you’re doing the right thing by wearing this hijab, but that’s not what Americans will see when they look at you. They won’t see your modesty or your goodness. All they’ll see is an outcast, someone who doesn’t belong.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Why did she have to be so afraid, so sensitive, so affected by the world?”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“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.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“But don't you think stories should be used to tell the truth?"
"No, I think we need stories to protect us from the truth.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“Learn this now, dear. If you live your life waiting for a man’s love, you’ll be disappointed.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
“She wished she could be stronger, wished she could be one of those people who could listen to a sad song without bursting into tears, who could read something horrible in the news without feeling sick, who didn’t feel so deeply. But that wasn’t her.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man

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