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Arab girls in America.

West of the Jordan: A Novel - Laila Halaby

This is an interesting look at the feelings and emotions of four Jordanian female cousins with Palestinian roots. They all live an expatriated life, in Jordan or USA and relate in different ways to their Arab heritage. 


I initially found the book rather confusing and I wished I'd kept a who's who from the start. It felt like a cast of thousands and I had a job remembering how each of the cousins was connected. The chronology was also non-linear, which caused more confusion.

However, it was the beautiful use of words that redeemed this book for me.


"The sky is light blue and the water where it meets is dark blue. "Can we swim out there to where the two blues meet?" (P124)


"Television in our house is like a loud monkey: it never shuts up when it's awake , and it always holds everyone's attention no matter how silly its behaviour" (P18)


And I loved Walid's response when a bartender asked if he could call him Willy; "I learned your language, you can learn my name."


Laila Halaby has a Jordanian father and an American mother and writes from the heart with this collection of stories that reveal the complexity of trying to operate in two diverse cultures at the same time. It's not so much a narrative as a diary and seems to be lacking a definitive ending, but it certainly is an eye-opener it terms of a behind the scenes understanding of the complex Arab situation.