When Jean Sasson, a young Southern woman, answers a call to work in the royal hospital in Saudi Arabia, what should have been a two-year stay turns into a life-changing adventure spanning over a decade.
Jean is plunged into the hidden lives of the veiled women in Riyadh, where women are locked in luxurious homes and fundamentalist mutawas terrorize the streets. Jean meets women from all walks of life–a feisty bedouin, an educated mother, and a conservative wife of a high-ranking Saudi–all who open a window into Saudi culture and help to reshape Jean’s worldviews.
What follows is a heartfelt, inspiring memoir about Jean’s new-found conviction to fight for women’s rights in a country of limited personal freedom.
I received American Chick in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson from the publishers on NetGalley and decided to read it as part of the mix-it-up challenge, in the Journalism and Humour category. Although there are parts that made me giggle, this obviously leans a little more towards journalism.
I started reading the book with some assumptions. Although the blurb simply states that Sasson went to work at a hospital, I assumed she went as a nurse, so I was a little surprised when very little was said about the hospital and healthcare in general. But thank goodness for that, because I read enough medical nonsense as it is!
Sasson writes eloquently about adjusting to this new environment, and chronicles a journey that starts with uncertainty, grows into curiosity and finally instils in her a passion for the country.
I enjoy the apposition of her views with the different views and experiences of the diverse women she encountered. Occasionally I do feel that the “West is Best” mindset shines through in the author’s insistence that these women are deprived even when they do not think they are. While she may well be right, some more in-depth discussion or elaboration might have been useful here.
Nevertheless, the rest of the work clarifies that Sasson respects the Saudi culture, and that she does not intend to patronise.
At 75 pages, this is a succinct read that conjures up images of Saudi Arabia and her people as you’ve never imagined before.