The Girl Who Fell to Earth: A Memoir

Sophia Al-Maria. Harper, $14.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-199975-8
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In this funny, insightful memoir, artist, filmmaker, and writer Al-Maria chronicles being raised by an American mother from rural Washington State and a Bedouin father from Qatar. After immigrating to America, marrying the author’s mother and building a life, Al-Maria’s father returns to Doha. Soon Al-Maria and her mother follow. Both have trouble settling into their new way of life. “Now that I knew there were two authorities in my life, Ma’s rules and the tribe’s rules, assimilation equaled rebellion.” When Al-Maria’s father takes a second wife, Al-Maria and her mother return to America. But tensions mount when the author enters fifth grade and becomes quite curious about sex, culminating with Al-Maria being sent back to her father in the Arabian Gulf. During high school her confusion mounts, causing what Al-Maria calls “cultural whiplash: “My situation had been thrown glaringly into focus by the proximity of my American and Arab worlds, which existed within a few roundabouts of each other.” Al-Maria’s narrative is laced with keen observations on Bedouin culture, class distinctions, sexual rules, and everyday life in the Middle East and America. Her story is a satisfying trek through a complex cross-cultural landscape toward a creative and satisfying life. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-209874-0
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