Book Review: Zeina and The Light Between Oceans

Two book reviews for you this week:

I was incredibly busy last week and didn't know if I would get my book finished for the week, but I made it today thanks to a quiet lunch hour and sitting in the car reading while the kids were at piano lessons!   

Review of Book # 45

Zeina by Nawal El Saadawi. 

This book was in the stack that I picked up during my wandering through the library looking for books to read.   I was really intrigued by the back as some of the reviews mentioned that the author is "the leading spokeswoman on the status of women in the Arab World" and that she "has come to embody the trials of Arab feminism."  

In my quest to learn about people and cultures that are different from me so that I can better understand where they are coming from in effort to be more compassionate and understanding, I was excited to read this book.  As I flipped quickly through the pages, I noticed that there are no chapters and really no breaks in the story.   I have never read a novel that is one long continuous story from beginning to end.   I found it to be a challenge in that there was never a convenient time to stop reading which left me pausing in the middle of events.   The story also changes points of view very quickly and changes from present tense to past tense, reality to fantasy just as quickly which at times proved to be a challenge to read at times.  

Some of the main themes in the book are the suppression of women from the poor on the street to the highly educated, hypocrisy mainly among the men with power and status, and how "God's word" can be bent and used to justify anything that is wanted or desired.  All of the male characters in the book viewed women as unclean and low on the social scales but used for pleasure.  The women, except for Zeina, are extremely demeaned.   This is most likely an exaggeration to make a point, but it seems a little excessive when reading the book.   I can't say that this book really moved me and was more of a relief to reach the final page.  

Review of Book # 43

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

This book caught my eye on the best seller's list.  Set on a small island off the coast of Australia, the story is of a light house keeper and his wife.   Secluded on the island for months at a time without contact from the main island except for a couple of months every three years, they only have each other to lean on through two miscarriages and a still birth.   When a boat washes up on the shores after a storm with a dead man and a baby who is still alive, Isabel views this as a gift from God.   Tom, meticulous in his record keeping decides to abide by his wife's wishes and does not record the correct time that the boat comes on the shore.   For two years the couple raise little Grace as their own daughter.  On their first trip to the mainland after Grace's arrival, the couple discovers the birth mother of Grace who is still grieving her lost husband and daughter.  

I realize that this type of story could only happen in the circumstances where a couple is cut off from all human contact besides supply boats for years at a time.   This part of the story took me a little to get over, but the author did an excellent job of describing the tensions between all parties involved from Isabel wanting to keep Grace and seeing nothing wrong with it, to Tom who wants to do the right thing, and every other life connected to Grace.

I could not put this book down and would highly recommend it.  

What was a book you couldn't put down that you have recently read? 

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