Girls Of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

No. of pages: 300
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis: Gamrah's faith in her new husband is not exactly returned. Sadeem is a little too willing to please her fiance. Michelle is half-American and the wrong class for her boyfriend's family. While Lamees works hard with little time for love. The girls of Riyadh are young, attractive and living by Saudi Arabia's strict cultural traditions. Well, not quite. In-between sneaking out behind their parents backs, dating, shopping, watching American TV and having fun, they're still trying to be good little Muslim girls. That is, pleasing their families and their men. But can you be a twenty-first century girl and a Saudi girl?

Review: This is the story of 6 years in the life of four friends ~ Gamrah, Sadeem, Michelle and Lamees. Following their stories of trying to fall in love and get married whilst sticking to their strict cultural rules, which doesn't make it easy for them at all. Covering issues such as divorce, infidelity, pregnancy, love before marriage and being an independent woman in a male dominated culture, this book, although fiction, is written by a Saudi Arabian woman giving insight to culture so different from our own.

This book was not what I was expecting at all, but it was a great surprise. It is essentially a chick-lit book set in a culture far different from our own, and so the situtations and problems the characters faced were not ones we would necessarily face. For example, if we fall in love with someone, we have the freedom of our own choice to do what we want, no one can stop us. However, if it happens in Saudia Arabia, it has to be in secret unless the male asks for the female's hand in marriage, and even then it's usually only with his family's permission. It was really interesting to read about the culture, although it was hard to imagine such a strict life because the way we live is so completely different. It was a great read though, and something I'd recommend to people interested in other religions or cultures.
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