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A Lebanese-American ex-wife of a former advisor to Yasser Arafat recounts her involuntary relinquishment of American freedoms during her marriage and her post-divorce struggles to reclaim her children from the war-torn West Bank region where they were being held by their father. 35,000 first printing.
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This uneven memoir frustrates and fascinates, as Kanafani appears to find the lives of others more interesting than her own. The surprising result: passages in which Kanafani's description of events as dramatic as falling for a prince on a cross-Atlantic voyage and watching her father go to prison for business irregularities (that are never disclosed) come across as mildly tedious. Fortunately, the tales she relates of Palestinian politics, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and Arab women bucking tradition to struggle for social justice are captivating. The author sees that both her father and her ex-husband, former Yasser Arafat adviser Marwan Kanafani, were controlling and abusive, but fails to consider why her relationship with the former may have led to her bond with the latter, and only rarely intimates what these love-hate relationships meant for her. Writing of a new friend, she says, I wanted to tell her that I was strong and independent too; I wanted to whisper this great secret to her, but I couldn't let Marwan hear me. Ultimately, Kanafani's curiosity about others and the surprising details she reveals about lesser-known topics such as Islamic marriage law or details of Yasser Arafat's marriage are worth the effort, but the payoff is a long time coming. (Jan. 8)
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"Much of this remarkable story takes place in parts of the world many of us will never see, but its essential geography is familiar to us all: the hardscrabble landscape of the heart, the longing for love, the disappointment when it fails, the stubborn optimism that impels a person to collect the pieces and soldier on, the fearless resolve of parenthood. Debbie Kanafani's courage is palpable, whether when fighting for her children or in standing up to the powerful men in her way. The unadorned honesty of her writing is luminescent, eminently accessible, and impossible to forget." -- Ernest Thompson, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "On Golden Pond"
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