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What makes this novel so fascinating is the backstory of the two main characters, and their experiences in the present tense. My first impression of Huda was that she is very timid and nervous, not the type of woman who would have any sort of sexual adventures whilst on holiday. When Yvonne was flirting with the men on the cliff when she is diving into the ocean, Huda completely ignores the men leading me to believe that she isn’t interested in the idea of dating, let alone hooking up with anyone. What made both of these characters so vastly interesting however, were their backgrounds. Huda is a Muslim woman from Lebanon and comes from a home that is wildly religious and where the men are quite obviously the authority figures. On the other side, Yvonne is a Christian woman, and although her family is not quite as rigid as Huda’s Lebanon alone is a country that has very distinct roles that women are expected to fill, and their sexuality is supposed to be pushed very far down within themselves. I think female sexuality is so often swept under the rug and not talked about because it is thought to be an embarrassing topic. This always confused me, men are praised for their sexual escapades, but women are expected to stay pure until marriage and never even think a dirty thought. How can that be? How can the roles be so different, and where did this idea that female sexuality is wrong come from? I think Hanan did such a wonderful job in creating characters who push these limits, and really opens the door for conversations regarding this topic. This was one of my favorite works we have read so far, it was so different from anything I have read before.

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