Sunday, 24 June 2018

Book Review - American Chick in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson - Bookish World Cup - Saudi Arabia

Amazon UK
Title: American Chick in Saudi Arabia
Author: Jean Sasson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 17th February 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

It all begins with an ad in the newspaper. When Jean Sasson, a young Southern woman living in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, answers a call to work in the royal hospital in Saudi Arabia, what should have been a two-year stay turns into a life-changing adventure spanning over a decade. Over the years Jean is plunged into the hidden lives of the veiled women in Riyadh, where women are locked in luxurious homes and fundamentalist mutawas terrorize the streets. Jean meets women from all walks of life--a feisty bedouin, an educated mother, a conservative wife of a high-ranking Saudi, and a Saudi princess the world knows as Princess Sultana--all who open a window into Saudi culture and help to reshape Jean's worldviews. AMERICAN CHICK IN SAUDI ARABIA is the first installment in a heartfelt, inspiring memoir about Jean's thirty-year travels and adventures in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.

What a fascinating account of life in the late 70s for an American woman living in Saudi Arabia.  I know a whole lot more about Saudi Arabia and its attitudes towards women, then I did before I read this  and although I was aware of some of it, the rest was eye opening. 

At times I felt like applauding Jean as she tried to explain Western freedoms to women who have lived their life under the veil, but at the same time I had great respect for the Saudi women she spoke to and befriended that had their own stories to tell, some of which were rather positive. 

I wish I had read this on a device that had colour photos to really see the opulence of the royal hospital that Jean was working in.  From the moment she landed in Saudi Arabia we are treated to a fabulous look at what life is like for a Western woman who is trying to fit in and learn the local customs. 

There was one chapter that really captured my attention and the one I think may stay with me for a while, which is Jean's experience when she dressed in the veil and went into the markets to see just what Saudi women experience.   To say it was an education would put it mildly. 

For a book that I feared could be heavily religious or political, I was greatly pleased to see was written in a way I could follow, the descriptions of Islamic customs were familiar from my GCSE in Religious Studies where half my course was learning about Islam. 

Although not my typical read,  and it has been possibly years since I last read anything remotely like a memoir, I really did enjoy this book and if you want a short, easy to follow look at life for women in the last 70s then this is certainly a book to be looked at. 

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