cover image The Ruins of Us

The Ruins of Us

Keija Parssinen. Harper Perennial, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-20644

Parssinen’s gripping, well-crafted debut tracks the awakening of a Saudi Arabian family to the dangers that lurk within. Twenty-five years into her marriage to wealthy Abdullah al-Baylani, the American Rosalie is shattered to find that her husband has taken another wife, and worries about the effect this will have on their teenage children, Faisal and Mariam. Rosalie and Abdullah’s love began in college in Texas, a bond deepened by the fact that Rosalie grew up in Saudi Arabia, “on the State Oil compound just outside of Al Dawoun and possessed that displaced expatriate child’s longing—more like an illness, really—for a home that no longer existed.” While Rosalie turns inward and Abdullah spends time with his Palestinian second wife, Faisal distances himself and, appalled by his father’s drinking and his mother’s American ways, delves deeply into a Koranic study group with a charismatic leader whose anti-American sermons light a dangerous fire inside the new pupil. Born in Saudi Arabia and having spent a decade there, Parssinen deftly illuminates Saudi Arabian life through a family locked in a battle over morality and cultural chasms. Agent: Fletcher & Company. (Jan.)