Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen

The Ruins of Us: A Novel (P.S.)This is not about the ruins of just "us." It's about the ruins of a family. Who'd have thunk that taking on another wife could lead to so many problems? (sarcasm)

Abdullah is the head of the family and rather than fix his relationship with his longtime American wife, Rosalie, he takes another wife and sets her up in a house down the street. According to Saudi law, this is okay. According to Rosalie, it is not. When the secret is revealed to the rest of the family, everything comes to a head.

Abdullah must slowly admit that he fell out of love with Rosalie because she no longer acts American. Rosalie admits that she fell in love with Saudi Arabia more than Abdullah. She struggled to fit in and be loved in a foreign country.. thus the loss of her Americanism. The children, Mariam and Faisal have their own issues. Faisal has been shunned and treated like crap overseas since 9/11. He comes home and finds acceptance in a group of extremists and replaces his unhappy home life with religion.. that he takes a bit too far. Mariam.. I wish there was more about Mariam. I loved her character, what little there was of it. she's a revolutionary, arguing for the rights of women and starting a blog.

Very good story with lots of hidden messages about how things we do or say have a domino effect. But I didn't care for the characters much at all. (Quibble number one.) Rosalie stays with that jerk??? Ugh. Abdullah isn't there for his family at all. When one woman displeases him, he goes to the other's bed. Faisal is a little terrorist. (Will he see the error of his ways? I'm not saying.) Dan is obsessed with his ex wife and read more into Rosalie's actions than is there. I think had there been more of Mariam, I would have been more pleased. Also wouldn't have minded seeing things from the "other wife's" POV too.

Quibble two: Bit drawn out as it gets into the characters' pasts. 

Favorite quote:

"There should be some sort of training before you got yourself mixed up in such things-marriages and divorces and children and second marriages. He had trained for every part of his life, football as a youth and then business and economics as an adult. Even driving required training. Yet when you are married, what advice did people give? Only congratulations, and what good does that do anyone?"

Very true. (That quote could be changed before publication.)

Three stars. Good look at modern day Saudi life and times and how a family can crumble under one person's mistake.

I got this from netgalley.

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