Friday, October 28, 2016

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour - ADVISABLE


Al Mansour, Haifaa The Green Bicycle, 346 pgs. Penguin, 2015. $16.99. Language: PG ( 2 swears, 0“f”); Mature Content: PG (men talk rudely to girls and women, some maturation discussion); Violence: G.   

11-year-old Wadjda wants more than anything to have a bicycle, like her friend Abdullah, but it is against the strict religious standards in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a girl to even ride a bike, let alone own one. But Wadjda is a schemer and a planner.  She sells candy and bracelets and mixtapes to the girls at school, but it will take a while to raise the 800 riyals - her mother will never buy one for her! But, after getting in trouble at school (again) Wadjda is required to take an after school religious class. Perhaps she can take this punishment and turn it into the means to get the forbidden green bicycle.  

Full of the day to day life of a girl in the middle east, this coming of age novel gives great insight about gender roles, religion and culture in Saudi Arabia.  While very funny in parts, it’s overall a sad story about  family problems, gender inequality, religious fervour and growing up female.  Although Wadjda is young, the relationship troubles with her parents (her father may be looking for a second wife) and the impolite treatment of women can be upsetting to younger readers.  

MS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

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