Girls of Riyadh (Used)


Author: Rajaa Alsanea

9781905490202 | PB | pp. 320 | 2008 | Penguin Books

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea follows the lives of 4 young well-educated women as they try to navigate hurdles in a country rooted in ancient tradition.

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Through a series of emails on a Yahoo subscription list, an unnamed narrator relates the adventures of her four young friends as they confront the challenges of adult life in the privileged society of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While the urbane clique shares fashion tips, the occasional sip of champagne, and a dream of true love, each of the girls has her own individual story: Gamrah has moved to the United States with her new husband in a union their families have arranged. Lonely and confined to a Chicago apartment, she wonders if she made the right choice. Her best friend, the romantic business student Sadeem, is fixed up with Waleed, a handsome civil servant from a prominent lineage, and they are soon caught up in a romantic whirlwind that might be a bit too intoxicating for their own good. Michelle, the half-American member of the group, is at the mall when she meets her own seemingly perfect paramour–the one man who can truly understand her Western values–but who, unfortunately, comes from a less tolerant family. Rebellious, headstrong medical student Lamees finds herself attracted to the brother of a Shiite classmate, even though the relationship may jeopardize her friendships and her freedom.

What Gamrah, Sadeem, Michelle, and Lamees soon learn is that falling in love might be easy, but finding lasting romance in Riyadh is a much more difficult proposition. As sophisticated as they are, they, like all Saudi women, must contend with their culture’s conflicting attitudes about sexuality and its deeply rooted class and religious prejudices–social pressures that can doom even the most auspicious-seeming match. Nothing seems to turn out exactly as they planned, but as the girls of Riyadh struggle to maintain their moral integrity in a modern world, they learn to find happiness on their own terms.

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Rajaa Alsanea







Year of Publication:



Penguin Books





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About the Author

The author grew up in Riyadh, the younger of two daughters in a family of doctors and dentists. She is currently living in Chicago, where she is pursuing a degree in endodontics. She intends to return to Saudi Arabia after obtaining her degree.


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