Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen

Title: The Ruins of Us
Author: Keija Parssinen

Set in the oil-rich Eastern Province amidst an unprecedented wave of terrorist violence, and exploring the loneliness of expatriatism and the immeasurable dangers of intolerance, The Ruins of Us is a timely story about the universality of family and the injustices we endure for love.
More than two decades after moving to Saudi Arabia and marrying Abdullah Baylani, Rosalie learns that her husband has taken a second wife, beautiful Palestinian Isra. The discovery plunges thepowerful family into chaos as Rosalie grapples with leaving Saudi Arabia, herlife, and her family behind. Driven by anger at the betrayal, she plots her departure, soliciting fellow American and Abdullah’s best friend, lonely divorcĂ© Dan Coleman, to help her. Meanwhile, Abdullah and Rosalie’s consuming personal entanglements blind them to the crisis approaching theirsixteen-year-old son Faisal, whose deepening resentment towards their lifestylehas led to his growing involvement with a controversial Sheikh. When Faisal makes an ill-fated choice that could destroy everything his embattled family holds dear, all must confront difficult truths as they fight to preserve what remains of their love."

My Two Cents:

This book is really about a family going in all different directions from each other. Abdullah has entered a new marriage with his second wife. His first wife (who he is still married to), American-born Rosalie, finds out on accident that he has married another woman. Meanwhile, Rosalie and Abdullah's son, Faisal, is moving towards extremism with a radical shiekh while their daughter, Mariam, is rebelling in her own way. No member of this family seems to know what is going on with the other. They are truly falling apart.

This story is definitely intriguing and kept me reading. Saudi Arabia is a very fascinating country and it was interesting to see how Rosalie, an American woman, adapted to a country where women have very little freedom. One of Abdullah's gripes with her is that she's lost a lot of the American ways that he liked about her when he first married her and has assimilated to the ways of the Saudis.

One thing that I wish the author had done was to write more about the motives of the different characters. Why would Abdullah do something as extreme as marry another woman without his wife knowing? Why does Faisal do what he does towards the end of the book (sorry for the vagueness but I don't want to give anything away)? I would have also liked to know more about what made the characters tick. How did Rosalie feel coming to a country like Saudi Arabia? Even with these questions that I have, this book was still an enjoyable read.



  1. At first glance, this doesn't look like I book I'd be interested in. But your review has changed my mind. I'm going to take a look when it comes out and probably work it into my reading. Thx!

  2. I'll have to look into this sounds interesting and for some reason I have a thing for Middle Eastern lit!

  3. I started reading this for upcoming blog tour and had some problems with it so I put it down. A lot just seemed strange and unrealistic to me like the thing with Abdullah randomly taking another wife! It bothers me those kind of motivations were never really answered. Same with Rosalie's character. I will try again but I've promised myself to not make myself read books I'm no into so I may DNF it.

  4. @Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind Yeah, the Middle East is not someplace that I read too often although I just finished a historical fiction about the area that became Israel recently too (The Man Clothed in Linen that's on my blog today).

  5. @Jenny Yeah, I kind of felt like a lot of the culture that may be unfamiliar to people outside of Saudi Arabia was sort of glossed over (i.e. Abdullah just taking another wife, no sweat).

  6. This sounds like an interesting read! I would love to read it.
    I am always amazed at how many new books to me I find when browsing through book blogs :)


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