For the uninitiated, it’s the book by Rajaa Alsanea that I am talking about. If there’s anything else you were thinking then emm.... Poof! I sense your disappointment. Hehe. Well rest assured reading any further is not going to be worth your while :P
In my opinion, what Girls of Riyadh did to Saudi Arabia is the exact same as what Slumdog Millionaire did to India.....Brought in a whole lot of limelight but sadly, for all the wrong reasons as they both addressed a class of people that the majority thought as inconvenient truths, at best ignored if not effectively concealed. *Course India’s case not possible yaara...I mean where will you hide Dharavi...it’s all right there bang on for your swaagat in plain view from the Raashtreeya hawaai addaa!*
Yes yes focus. Haa so let me tell you I have never been more excited about reading a book as I was about this one. Firstly, because it’s about a set of people who live just four hours away from the place I was brought up *Love thy neighbour and all.... you know na how it is!*
And secondly, the controversy surrounding it and a whole 3 year ban it faced in Saudi Arabia. So naturally you start to think ki yaar ye hai kya cheez!
Right so the book borrowed *duh!* and me all set to read, the first three quarter of the book, let me tell you was beyond awesome. A perfect narrative, an instant connect, little cute honest love stories and most importantly the sense of elation I felt at knowing stuff others might take a while to grasp *believe me it rarely everrrrr happens with me, so kindly put up as I gloattt*. All was in order, until a terrible thing happened.*sad eyes*
I fell asleep.
And even in my sleep, I kept imagining what may happen further in the book to the main characters as the story progresses.
Next dayyyyyyyyyyy unfortunately, nothing thereon ever took off. The smooth ride so far went all glub glub glub underwater.
The book is about four girls who are all starry eyed at the thought of louuuuve. The story revolves around their love lives set in the backdrop of Arabian customs and practices that are stringent to say the least.
The positive of the book is the format of writing; as in a narrator who sends weekly emails to random people telling the real stories of four of her friends. I thought the idea was pretty unique. Also, the characters of all girls are very likeable and not particularly *oh I think I broke my nail* kinda vain and stoopid.
The downside however is the fact that there are just wayyyy too many make ups and break ups so by the end you get confused as to who was with whom as suddenly people from the past start to pop up in the plot.
Also, a lot of parts in the story seemed like more than being bold about the truth of society, it was trying to be loud and sensationalise for the sake of striking as different, by blaring the pitfalls and extremist views.
For instance if one girl liked to wear the abaaya/ burkha, it was covered in a sentence; but if another thought it ugly, 2 pages were expressly devoted to that. Know what I mean?
Another thing was the end, which I thought was extremely abrupt, without giving a logical conclusion as to what happened about the girls, given the idea itself was to talk of their love life. It almost gave the impression like the author got really bored and wanted to end it at the earliest.
One thing I couldn’t follow though was the character traits of all the men in the story. They seemed designed without a backbone, extremely fickle, hugely dependent on family ties and too afraid to stand up for their love without adequate reason. All of them! Strange no?
On the whole, a good read, a unique story....the culture part though needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as it seemed a little biased for hype.
P.S. - If you happen to be a girl nursing a fresh break up, this one isn’t for you my dear, cos it may make you dislike men in general for long, and particularly men in Riyadh for life. :-)