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Finding Nouf Paperback – May 6, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Several reviewers have noted that the city of Jeddah comes through as a character in the book, and I wholeheartedly agree. More freewheeling and less restrictive than the capital Riyadh, Jeddah is a behemoth-sized eddy in the current of humanity where eccentrics turn up and stay for decades. Ferraris has captured its spirit. She gently leads the reader into the home of a wealthy family, a modest walk-up apartment in the old quarter, "Club Jed" - a foreigners' compound, as well as markets, offices and restaurants.
She also walks the reader through the puzzling issues one faces when trying to negotiate daily life in that social system with its curious customs. Then she shows how it's common and even acceptable to break some of the rules, if it's done discreetly and for good reason. The book's pacing, too, rings true to me. That's how things happen there.
When writing about men and women in Saudi Arabia, it's easy for western writers to slip into a patronizing or judgmental tone. Author Ferraris' never does this. She respects each character and the dilemmas they face.
I found her supporting characters particularly authentic, such as Miss Hijazi's father, her driver or `escort', and the optometrist. They all reflect the fascinating jumble of humanity in Jeddah.
Most important of all, Ferraris' portrayal of Katya Hijazi is splendid. She's a fine example of sensible and intelligent young Saudi women who don't sit back complaining about the social system. Instead, they get the job done within the system and in spite of it.
Mabruk (congratulations) to Ferraris. Please bring us more adventures of Nayir and Katya.
Nayir, actually a Palestinian, is almost a caricature of the pious Muslim. Despite the bonds imposed on him by restrictive Saudi society, he longs for romance and struggles to reconcile his need for companionship with his strict adherence to Sharia law. Interestingly, he seems to chafe against those oppressive bonds, particularly as they restrict his ability to work with women. Even making eye contact with a woman causes him great angst. As a result of this personal torment and the baggage associated with a previously failed relationship, Nayir is in a sort of self-imposed romantic exile - living a Spartan, reclusive existence on a sailboat in Jeddah harbor.
Katya by contrast represents the newly empowered younger generation of Saudi women entirely comfortable in their hard-won independence. While complying with such government-enforced customs as remaining covered from head to toe in public, Katya reaches considerably higher professionally than many Saudi women - even earning a Ph.D. Employed as a medical examiner, she spreads her wings in investigating a murder that strikes uncomfortably close to home - the home, that is, of her fiancé.Read more ›
When sixteen-year-old Nouf ash-Shrawi disappears from her wealthy family's isolated home, it is at first hoped that she has simply run away, perhaps suffering a bad case of nerves about her impending marriage. But an examination of her body after she has been found dead in the desert leaves little doubt that Nouf has been murdered and Nayir ash-Sharqi, a family friend and desert tracker who failed in his quest to find her before she died, feels both the guilt of that failure and a responsibility to determine exactly what happened to the girl.
Nayir finds a ready ally in Katya Hijazi, a lab technician who, like Nayir, is a friend of the Shrawi family (she is the fiancée of Nouf's adopted brother, Othman) and who has been asked to keep an eye on the official investigation into Nouf's death. But Katya is more than Nayir, a strictly religious Palestinian who has had only limited contact with Saudi women, knows how to handle. He finds her aggressiveness and willingness to display her face in all but the most public of venues to be shocking, especially when he learns that she is engaged to his good friend, Othman.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gave me insight to Muslim thinking of a pious man and the mind set of some Muslim women.Published 12 hours ago by BARBARA M LEINGANG
I could not put this book down. The author's style made this novel so easy to read. The book had the perfect blend of character development and plot development.Published 14 days ago by Jan
What Zoë does better than any author I have read is to take the Western reader inside the minds of conservative Saudi Muslims today. Read morePublished 25 days ago by GM
Interesting look at culture of Saudi Arabia and Islamic practices and gender roles, wrapped around an intriguing mystery.Published 2 months ago by Kathy Carson
The setting of this mystery makes it a fascinating story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.Published 3 months ago by Kathy's Kindle