A Woman Is No Man A Woman Is No Man

A Woman Is No Man

    • 4.4 • 215 Ratings
    • $16.99

    • $16.99

Publisher Description



A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March • A Marie Claire Best Women’s Fiction of 2019 • A Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel • A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month • An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019 • A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019 • A USA Today Best Book of the Week • An Elaine Newton—Summer Reading List Critic’s Choice • A Girls Night In Book Club Pick

“I couldn't put it down.  I was obsessed with figuring out the mystery of this family.""   —Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

“Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns... Etaf Rum’s debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.”   —Refinery 29

“A stunning debut novel that hooked me from page one.... Rum accomplishes the high-wire act of telling a story that feels both contemporary and timeless, intimate and epic.""    —Tara Conklin, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Last Romantics

""Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of—dangerous, the ultimate shame.”

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

Ariana Delawari
hr min
March 5

Customer Reviews

BluePotential ,

3.5 rounded up to 4

This was such a 5-star book for about the first 70% but the back 30% dragged quite a bit, which brought down my overall rating. I definitely understand the criticisms of over-simplicity/lack of nuance this book has received, but as a story, it’s very page-turning and certainly wants to address many incredibly important topics.

Ciana C. ,

A Woman is No Man

The story follows three women, Isra a young Palestinian girl who is married off to man in America. Her daughter Daya and her mother-in-law Fareeda.
Isra has a fairy tale belief that she can earn her husband’s love, by being the perfect wife, holding her tongue, cooking and cleaning day and night, producing a male heir and enduring his subsequent abuse when all she has is daughters. 4 daughters later she is suffering from a deep depression and contemplates suicide, but her drunk husband saves her the trouble.
Daya, Isra’s oldest daughter, wants to go to college and not get married, or at least would like to marry for love, instead of suffering through proposed suitors. She is raised by her paternal grandparents in Brooklyn. She knows her parents had a tumultuous relationship filled with arguments and physical abuse, but doesn’t quite know the truth of their demise. It is not until she reconnects with her Americanized aunt that she learns she what really happened to her parents.
Fareeda, the overbearing mother-in-law and grandmother understands the word is hard and hardest on women, but she truly believes her culture cannot be escaped. She came of age in the refugee camps in Palestine. Even though she lives in American, she can’t comprehend how it feels to be an American, she only knows life from kitchen to kitchen and child to child. She continuously insists “We didn’t come to America so our daughters could become Americans,” and believes it’s their duty to make sure the culture survives. These three women suffer much tragedy, but glimpse freedom and with every generation the door to freedom opens wider.

CoriTD ,


Sad cannot begin to describe Isra's life. A young Palestinian girl is married off to an Arab-American. She finds herself living in Brooklyn, New York. All Isra wants is to find love with a man she does not know, she is not given a choice about whom she marries, but thinks she will have a better life. Instead Isra finds herself living in the basement apartment with her in-laws upstairs. She has no freedom but is instead a maid and is encouraged to produce sons for her husband. As Isra begins to produce daughters she loses status in this household and barely holds onto her sanity in this oppressive life. The story also follows the story if Isra's daughter who also wishes for a better life, still living in the same place as her mother, Deya, also has very little freedom. She is seventeen and it is now time for suitors to begin to arrive at the apartment so that Deya can be quickly married off. This story is both moving and shocking, these are stories that take place in the 1997 and 2008. So sad that really nothing has changed for mother and daughter. It really made me appreciate how much freedom I have!

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