Book Reviews, Books ๐Ÿ’œ

Book Review: A WOMAN IS NO MAN by Etaf Rum.


Hello readers ๐Ÿ’œ I’m back again with a new book review of the widely acclaimed fiction – A Woman Is No Man.



Title: A Woman Is No Man

Author: Etaf Rum

Genre: Domestic Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Year: 2019

Synopsis:ย 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 doesnโ€™t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deyaโ€™s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.



A Woman Is No Man tells the in-depth story of three generations of Palestinian-American women – the mother-in-law Fareeda, the daughter-in-law Isra and the granddaughter Elif.

In each of their lives, one thing is certain. Their struggle to fit in a ‘man’s world.’ Fareeda has the idealogy, and mindset engraved in her, that she cannot see life any other way. She cannot go out on her own, cannot ask directions even. She believes a man owns the woman. That a, woman cannot live life on her own.
โ€œThere are things in this life no one should see. When I was your age, I never let anyone see my shame.โ€ Fareeda tells Isra, her daughter-in-law whom her son Adam had beaten. And Fareeda knew. But never uttered a word because she believes that he did the right thing. Probably because she also went through the same thing. Beaten, humiliated by her own husband.

Isra, however, is a naive girl who thinks Adam could love her someday. But he never does. After giving birth to four girls, insulted for having only girls, she thinks having another girl would be a curse. So she aborts her own baby by repeatedly jumping the stairs.
โ€œIf a woman called the cops every time her husband beat her, all our men would be in jail,โ€ her mother-in-law says after Adam beat Isra one night.

Isra goes into depression gradually and becomes an empty shell. Meanwhile everyone around her says she is crazy.

Her life ends when after all the hardship and pain, she decides to leave with her daughters but her husband finds out and beats her to death.

Deya wants to go to college but grandma Fareeda doesn’t agree. She tries everything to stop the young girl from achieving her dream.

The three generations learn in a hard way that in a man’s world, a woman has no say. She isn’t allowed to think on her own nor have dreams and aspirations. The book also shows that these beliefs are definitely against Islamic principles. It also shows the horror Palestinians live in, in the Israeli occupied territories – always on edge, in fear of being driven out of their homes, the horror of life in a refugee.




Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City to Palestinian parents. Her parents grew up in refugee camps in Palestine before immigrating to the United States and her grandparents also lived out their lives in refugee camps in Palestine. Rum was raised in a traditional family and entered into an arranged marriage at a young age. She then moved to North Carolina where, at the age of 19, she gave birth to her daughter and son two years later.

While raising her children, Rum enrolled in North Carolina State University, where she earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature, a B.S. in Philosophy, and an M.A. in American and British Literature and Philosophy. Her debut novel is A Woman Is No Man


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