Girls of Riyadh

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. Books can take you to many different wonderful places – both fictional and real. Here are ten places that I’ve wanted to visit due to reading.

Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I’d like to visit Narnia in any part of its history, when there’s snow everywhere thanks to the White Witch or when everything’s happier during Prince Caspian’s reign.

Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Who isn’t intrigued by Hogwarts?! I’d love to explore where all the stair cases lead and to hang out by the lake and Hagrid’s hut.

New York City thanks to the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
I like how New York is just a back drop to Mia’s problems when dealing with being a princess. That being said I was always interested in New York and two years ago I did go visit the city and absolutely fell in love with the place – but I really want to go again! (more…)

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READ THE WORLD – Saudi Arabia: Girls of Riyadh – Rajaa Alsanea

article-1030583-018D632700000578-736_306x473Girls of Riyadh follows four twenty-something girls from the capital city of Saudi Arabia and how they try to find love in a society that’s restrictive to young women. Homely Gamrah is married to a man she’s only recently met and isn’t sure if her feelings are recuperated. Gutsy Sadeem is trying to please her fiancé. Michelle is half-American and is acutely aware of the differences between the culture of America and Saudi Arabia. Lamees is hard-working and has little time for love.

The girls are all young and attractive and are trying to walk a line between Saudi Arabia’s strict cultural traditions and being teenagers, sneaking out of their parents houses, going shopping and dating. They are still trying to be good Muslim girls, which means pleasing their families and their men.

The story is told through e-mails from an anonymous woman who is telling the story of her four friends. Over the course of the novel you can’t help but wonder if the narrator is one of the four girls whose story is being told or if she’s another friend or relative in the girls’ lives.

Girls of Riyadh is a fascinating book as while it has the same elements you’re used to see in almost every book, the troubles and successes of romance, friendship and family, being set in Saudi Arabia means there’s elements of language, religion and culture that I never really knew about. It’s an interesting insight of these girls’ lives.

The novel takes place over a number of years so many of the girls go through career changes, move abroad to England or America for a while, they get their hearts broken and find new loves. Because of that, Girls of Riyadh feels very real. Everyone goes through changes in their lives so seeing these girls grow up but their friendship still manages to stay strong is very true to life.

The language is quite simple but that makes sense since it has been translated into English and also as the anonymous narrator explains, she’s not used to writing much at all.

I give Girls of Riyadh 4/5.