Sunday, November 30, 2008

In the Land of Invisible Women

This book took be absolutely forever to read. I started it about a month ago. I started out reading it on the computer because of the free download I got from librarything. I probably wouldn't even have heard about this great book if it wasn't for that.

I raved about In the Land of Invisible Women so much that my mom decided she should read it. She bought a copy. I finished the last 100 or so pages of it reading it from a real book then passed it along to her.

I learned so much from this lovely memoir about a female doctor who makes the decision to spend several years practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia where she encounters a world very different from her own. Dr. Qanta is a Saudi Muslim, but lives in the United States. She was not familiar with the way women are forced to live in Saudi Arabia.

The book deals with her adjustment to the new society and learning more about the Muslim faith. Qanta's experiences are very unique since she is a female in leadership since she is a doctor. In Saudi Arabia women in the workforce and in any leadership position are rare.

Women are not valued in Saudi Arabia. They cannot drive or go out in public with a man who she is not related to and must be fully covered. It shocked me to learn that they tried to pass a law forbidding women to wear seatbelts because it shows their clevage! Things like that are only a taste of what Qanta writes about.

Qanta spent about 2 years in Saudi Arabia and decided to leave shortly after 9/11. One of the hardest passages to read in the book is the chapter about 9/11 in Saudi Arabia and the chapters following that. I knew Americans hated Muslims and to some extent, Muslims dislike Americans but I did not know how severe it is. I remember on 9/11 when I was in fifth grade, I watched the news and I saw a middle eastern kid my age stomping on an American flag. I still do not know the roots of the hatred between our countries, since it existed before 9/11 but Qanta's book made me think more about it.

Of course, things have changed in Saudi Arabia since Qanta spent her time there. The last portion of the book covers the progress of the nation since then. Their gains seem small to us, but when you consider what the situation was before, they are moving along full speed ahead.

This book's grade: A+