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A love story within another culture
I gave this book three stars because I liked the descriptive talents on display here. The author describes food and the preparation of it in such lyrical terms I could almost see myself in Sirine's kitchen workplace, ministering to customers and guests with her irreplaceable talents, bringing lost bits of home to displaced Middle Easterners and others who come into the cafe. What I became tired of was the use of this story as a platform for thinly veiled political points designed to disparage the country (USA) in which the characters live. The atrocities that had forced many of them from their home country to this one, although committed by their own leaders, are blamed on shadowy American agents with no substantive historical argument regarding the rise to power of Saddam Hussein or his ruthless handling of the Iraqi people. Ultimately I was unable to relate to the love affair in the context of the Arab-American identity crisis experienced by Sirine, as it was so immersed in the local Middle Eastern culture and seemed to me largely separate from the surrounding American "melting pot" community.
a wise reader
poor choice for college course credit
I was excited to get started on this book for my college course. We were studying different types of literature-this was a required read and we were to write a paper on it. The paper required us to read the whole book.I would have put it down if I had the choice. The stories Sirine's uncle tells in great -detail take away from the story itself. I would have loved to have had more of Han's story in the end. The last three or so chapters had me on the edge of my seat. With that said, I do not feel this type of reading should ever be required of any student-no matter the age. Simply because it was slightly pornographic. Too many details of Sirine's romps made me feel uncomfortable - and I dread that we have to discuss this book in public. But of course I do not think the writer ever intended for her novel to be used in the way I have had to. Word to teachers or professors out there - this is not a wise choice of classroom literature to open yous students' minds to the world outside their own.The romantic trysts were totally inappropriate for students to be forced to read. I am 38 years old and married with a young daughter and now I have to explain why she shouldn't read this book after I have finished it.
To sum up my review...it was a poorly written book. It didn't grab my attention/interest, which I'd like a book to do right from the beginning. I'm surprised this book was basically published. A friend gave me the book & said she didn't like it either so I thought I'd read it. Now I know exactly what she's referring to. I've read so many good books in my life and this book shouldn't even be on the bookshelf in the library.
It took me 9 months to be able to finish this book. I love to read and when I start a book I refuse to not read it all the way through regardless of like or dislike of it. It was so hard to begin to get interested in this book mainly because none of the text was familiar to me. I kept reading and kept reading and eventually feel in love around the very end/beginning of part two. The only bad thing I have to say is I think another ending should be written, one with more information about Han and his escape. Although while saying this I am reminded of Sirine's uncle saying
NOT OK FOR KIDS!!!!
"Because people crave the beauty of not knowing, the excitement of suggestions, and the sweet tragedy of mystery. In other words, Habeebti, you must never tell everything."
Although it may be a well written and thought provoking book...but....with that being said, it is NOT appropriate for minors, children. "Soft porn" is how many of us describe this book and we had it officially removed from our school's curriculum.
Middle Eastern culture shining through at its fullest.
Every word and image earns its place in this intelligent and affecting novel by Diana Abu-Jaber. A must-read.