Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Princess: More Tears to Cry by Jean Sasson


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Princess Sultana vividly describes life inside one of the richest, most conservative kingdoms in the world.
MY TAKE:
I've always been interested in learning about other countries' cultures, and since I have friends who work in Saudi Arabia, I decided to give this book a try.

In Princess: More Tears to Cry, Princess Sultana updates readers on life in Saudi Arabia. While there are some stories about the poor in her country, majority of the book is about the state of women's rights in India and what she and her relatives are doing to improve it, as well as other issues like education.

While I knew that women face a lot of challenges in the middle east, I had no idea that it was that bad in Saudi Arabia. The princess does show that the situation is improving somewhat, but there is still a lot to be done. A lot of the stories she told really angered me.

I feel fortunate to live in a country that ranks as the best country in Asia for women, and is part of the top 10 worldwide. This is according to the 2013 Global Gender Report by the World Economic Forum. From what I have experienced, this seems accurate. Here, women and men both receive higher education (if they can afford it or get a scholarship) and women have no trouble finding good jobs and rising up the corporate ladder. Most men here are taught by their parents to respect women, so aside from the occasional random jerk on the street, the men I have encountered have all treated me as my own person. Since this is the only thing I have known my whole life, most of the stories in this book shocked and angered me.

I cannot imagine a life so dependent on men, even if it was my husband. The situation in Saudi Arabia, of course, mostly stems from religious beliefs. From what I understood from the book, it's the religious clerics who dictate how women are treated in general. As a Catholic living in a predominantly Catholic nation, I don't feel like I can truly understand the rationale behind some of the restrictions since from what I can see in my culture, some of their reasoning doesn't ring true. Of course, while the Catholic church in my country doesn't keep silent on certain issues here, like birth control, ultimately, the final decision is with our government since our country adheres to the separation of church and state.

I am glad, though, that there are people in Saudi Arabia, not just the women, who are campaigning for better treatment of women. I wonder how quickly they'll be able to achieve all their goals?

Thanks to NetGalley and Liza Dawson Associates for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It gives you a look into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia.
  2. It gives you a first-hand look into the lives of Saudi Arabian royalty.
  3. There are facts about Saudi Arabia, a glossary and a timeline at the end of the book. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the points Princess Sultana makes can feel a little repetitive. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I believe in open dialogue and know that without education, awareness and the right of its every citizen to live in dignity, no country can advance. 
READ IT IF:

  1. You want to know what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia.
  2. You are curious about the Saudi Royal family.
  3. You are interested in women's rights. 

RATING:
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