In spite of what follows, I want to assert that I liked this book. I liked the author’s passion, her determination, and her perspective as an American Muslim of Arab (Palestinian) descent.
Manal Omar told this story in a conversational tone. True to most conversations, she wove in and out of it, introducing diverse elements easily and leaving them just as easily. I would have appreciated more consistency and more focus upon her actual work.
The narrative picks up drama towards the end, when Manal’s safety becomes untenable and she must evacuate.
I would have liked to hear more about the women she helped. Much of the book is wasted on prolonged accounts of her moves into various apartments, and how she found suitable quarters for establishing offices.
I would have also liked to hear more about how the love story developed. She glosses over it, and one wonders, while reading the book, whether her interactions with any of the men take on romantic tones. Of course, as a Muslim on shaky ground— both politically and morally—she cannot admit to much of a romance. Still, her almost haphazard mention of it towards the end of the book rings only half-true.
This book held me fascinated throughout, but I confess to being a captive audience because of my own Middle-Eastern experience, and also because my son-in-law is Iraqi, and I want to read more about Iraq’s recent history through the eyes of people who have experienced it.