This novel is set in old Muslim culture in which women have no rights and no right to question the world around them or their situation simply due to the fact that they are female.
The Islamic Quran teaches that the father is the head of the household, but the mother is stronger as she is expected to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders and therefore deserves respect only for that task in itself. Palestinian women of the past believed there was no happiness for them and that through violence visited upon them, women became strong. This became a type of rationalizing the violence threaded through their life stories, trying desperately to turn it into something with a positive end result in order to just survive the internal turmoil it caused
The book shows the level of misogyny, even perpetrated by other women who themselves had less freedom from fear and from poverty while they were growing up. It's a reaction to their circumstances and their reasoning is that they don't want their daughters to know the pain of wishing for what they cannot have.
It is a novel in which one woman escapes her own family and strives to change her own destiny in order to survive, and the tale of what it cost her. She makes it through the other side, then works toward giving other daughters of these "old culture families" the ability to dream bigger, expect more for themselves, and believe in an escape from their restrictive and joyless lives.
If you like historical or international fiction, and storytellers such as Khaled Hossini, you might like Etaf Rum's premier novel "A Woman Is No Man." I look forward to more work from this author in the future.
By Melissa Skinner