College-aged Guène was raised by Algerian immigrant parents in a Parisian housing project; in her debut novel, a French bestseller, 15-year-old Doria and her illiterate mother, having been abandoned by Doria's alcoholic father, are stuck in a Paris housing project called the Paradise. Dependent on welfare and subjected to the obligatory succession of social workers, the two are determined to face forward, despite Doria's sense of doomed mektoub (destiny), where gradual improvement (French: kiffe kiffe) gets flattened by the same old quotidian (Arabic: kif-kif). Doria, perpetually failing at school, begins a job babysitting a neighbor's much-adored four-year-old daughter, and Doria's mother begins literacy courses. A smart older boy, Nabil, is enlisted to tutor Doria, and she soon recognizes the potential of someone with dreams (as opposed to neighborhood teens like Hamoudi and Youssef, imprisoned for drug dealing and car theft). Throughout, the strictures of patriarchal Muslim culture clash with a nascent feminist freedom and Doria's exuberant, sophisticated teen talk. This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto. (July)
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In the rough Paris housing projects, Doria, 15, a child of Muslim immigrant parents, sets her soap-opera dreams against the grim daily struggle, even as she does sometimes find the bold and the beautiful in herself and in her neighborhood. "It's like a film script. . . . Trouble is, our scriptwriter's got no talent. And he's never heard of happily ever after." Author Guene, 19, has grown up in the neighborhood she writes about, and her irreverent commentary never denies how hard it is. The first-person contemporary narrative, translated from the French, is touching, furious, sharp, and very funny. Since Doria's dad moved back to Morocco to marry again (he wants a son), Mom cleans hotel rooms, and Doria wants to drop out of school. The boy she loves is in trouble with drugs and loves someone else. Honest about the oppression of women and about the prejudice, both ways, Guene also shows those who break free. Much like enduring the pain of her wisdom teeth, she discovers that "it hurts to learn." Hazel Rochman
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Mixed in with American pop culture reference and a blend of France and Morocco. A must read for anyone traveling to either country.Published 23 days ago by Amín Fernández
This is a quick read, it took me like 2.5 or 3 hours to finish. This book was a requirement for one of my literature classes and this rivals 'The Madonnas of Echo Park' as one of... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kevin R.
Great book from the little seen perspective of a French immigrant in the Parisian 'burbs. The story sometimes feels disjointed and meandering, but so is the protagonist's life. Read morePublished 17 months ago by JWilder
Doria, is cynical and snarky, which is something I find especially annoying in books (and real life), but in this case, I found myself really liking Doria. Read morePublished on February 13, 2013 by Tanya Patrice
I bought this book for class and ended up enjoying it. The blurb makes the book sound more complicated than it really is. Read morePublished on December 23, 2012 by SM
This book was published when the author was 19 and ended up being a French best seller and is set in public housing project called "Paradise" on the outskirts of Paris. Read morePublished on March 25, 2012 by WordNerdSHM