One of my 2012 resolutions was to read more regularly and I’m already 2 books down…not too shabby! The first book I read Privileges by Jonathan Dee was not one I would recommend, however the second completely made up for it: Princess by Jean Sasson. Considering I’m not much of a reader, it’s a huge deal that I finished this book within 3 days.
Princess is a true story based on the life of the Saudi Princess Sultana Al Sa’ud (name changed for confidentiality reasons). Hidden behind her black veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, brother, her husband, and her country. It starts when she is four years old and the author chronicles her life and transition into a wife & mother. Reading about the oppressions that became the norm for Arab women was all too fascinating yet heart-wrenching to read: fourteen-year-old girls forced to marry men thrice their age, sexual abuse, young women killed by drowning, stoning or isolation in the “women’s room”.
Princess definitely made me all the more grateful for the opportunities I am blessed with despite my sex. My parents encouraged me to obtain a university degree, I have the freedom to travel as I please, I am able to choose the man I marry, I can wear dresses whenever I want (despite my grandmother’s occasional dismay at the length of some ;))…the list is endless. However at the same time, as an Indian, I could somewhat identify to the upper-hand males have. Although it’s not to the same extent as the Arab culture (as portrayed by the book), the boys in my community too face some ‘privileges’:
- It’s more acceptable for a boy to marry a Non-Hindu than it is for a girl
- Boys can come home any time they please without being questioned
- During death, women of the family are not allowed to participate in any of the rituals…regardless of her relationship with the deceased
- There’s less pressure for a boy to get married
- To some degree, the birth of a son is favourable as they will eventually continue the family name
There are few books which leave me raving about it once I’m done reading it, but this book truly was shocking, fascinating, heart-breaking, outrageous, thought-provoking, and simply unbelievable. Given its writing style, the book was an easy read and I would fully recommend it to every female. If anything it’s a huge eye-opener at how lucky we are: every day we are given the freedom to express our individuality in the clothes we wear, the company we keep, the choices we make, and the paths we choose to walk in life.
Have you read any book which really gave you food for thought? Any recommendations?