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Stage Daughter Paperback – June 1, 2013
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"Sheryl Sorrentino is to be commended for her complex story of a very real, contemporary family." Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite"Stage Daughter by Sheryl Sorrentino is a deeply emotional story about family dynamics." Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite
About the Author
With her three previous novels (Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz; An Unexpected Exile; and The Floater;), Sheryl Sorrentino has forged a unique fiction niche using a provocative, culturally-inclusive voice to explore women’s inner struggles in socially-significant contexts. Endorsed by Compulsion Reads and a Finalist in the Chick Lit/Women's Lit fiction category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards , Sheryl Sorrentino's fourth novel, Stage Daughter, continues the trend with a page-turning exposé of single-motherhood, blended families, and religious intolerance—told by three dissimilar (yet inextricably connected) characters. A practicing attorney who lives with her husband and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sheryl Sorrentino is known for her edgy and emotional stories about families and intimate multicultural relationships.
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This is a wonderful story of an adopted, bi-racial single mother, Sonya, with dreams for her 12 year old daughter, Razia, to become an actress, while Razia has different ideas for her future including the discovery of her biological father, Aziz, an Arab from Kuwait. Underneath the story is the sensitively written description of the culture clash of western and muslim cultures and a frank look at society's premises regarding love affairs, marriage and child rearing in these cultures. When Sonya confronts Fadwa, Aziz's muslim wife to tell her she did not know Aziz was engaged to her when they had their one-night-stand, and then Sonya became unexpectedly pregnant, Fadwa is aghast that her husband had deceived her by having his first-born by accident--and that he was "sullied and spoken for" by the time he married her. This is only one of the many interesting social clashes illustrated in this story. It's a great read, as are Sheryl's "The Floater", "Unexpected Exile" and "Later With Myself"--each of her stories has underlying inspiring wisdom.
Her daughter, Razia is also biracial – the result of a one-night stand with a Kuwaiti man. Sonya had aspired to being on stage and propels her daughter to fulfill those dreams. Razia resents being pushed into theatre when she wants to be an artist. (Really do parents still do that?) Sonya loves her and means well, but not surprisingly Razia is also troubled … a sulky and sometimes rude adolescent.
Razia’s longing for a father and a more stable parental figure allows her to cut a lot more slack for him than she ever would for her mother. Aziz is perhaps a more sympathetic character, as the Muslim man who wants to do the right thing – although he can be autocratic too. Sonya feels threatened and resentful of him and Razia is caught in the middle. Aziz feels his duty is to convert Razia to Islam immediately. To tell more might ruin the plot for you. Suffice it to say the it has a satisfying ending.
At first I had a hard time getting into the book as the two main characters are not particularly endearing. The pace slows at times due to conversations that seem unnecessary, but it picks up when Razia tracks down her father, Aziz. Although at times I felt the three protagonists all seemed to speak in the same voice, making the reader figure out whose voice they are hearing(reading), the different points of view are critical and handled skillfully.
The novel is set in Berkeley California and I live in the San Francisco Bay area so it was fun for me to read of places like the “Berkeley Bowl.” I like it when authors use real settings and describe places you may encounter in your travels or even daily life.
As I was reading, I thought I would probably give this book three to three and a half stars, but decided that was my own genre prejudice and I changed my mind as I read on. The book is well-written and shows respect for the diversity of the characters. Sheryl Sorrentino tells this bold story with candor and empathy, exploring contemporary issues of ethnic, religious, and cultural differences as well as sexual orientations. A laudable accomplishment. After reading this book, I look forward to reading Later With Myself her “semi-memoir.”