Book Reviews · new release

Book Review: That Other Me by Maha Gargash

other me

Title: That Other Me

Author: Maha Gargash

Published: 2016

Pages: 384

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: ARC sent by PR from Harper Collins

My rating: 4/5


From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Sand Fish,Maha Gargash’s second novel is set in mid-1990s Dubai and Cairo and tells the story of how secrets and betrayals consume three members—an authoritarian father, a rebellious abandoned daughter, and a vulnerable niece—of a prominent Emirati family.

An exhilarating look at the little-known Khaleeji (Gulf-Arab) culture, That Other Me explores the ways social mores contribute to the collapse of one family.

A look into family structure in the Arab world, I felt transported to Cairo and Dubai. The culture, language, lifestyle, all painted eloquently to provide the backdrop for familial engagements and how it all intertwines. I consumed the entirety of this book in one weekend, feeling empowered to stand up to those who may treat me unfairly or hold me back from my dreams. Being from a supportive family, I cannot imagine what it could be like for Dalal and Mariam, being constantly directed into what is expected of them by the head of the household. Having to act a certain way, blend into the family despite unique talents and qualities, and

Don’t get me wrong, Dalal is quite bold and thinks too highly of herself as her career starts to take off in the entertainment world and Mariam playing cat and mouse with a young man in her school. However, I find their dedication and spirit encouraging. To be honest I have struggled with accepting what’s said to me without complaint, yet seeing how these young women defied their fatherly figure, inspires me to fight back (bit with more tact and maturity then what Dalal and Mariam express 😉 ).

The pace between each character’s first person narrative every chapter was pretty quick so sometimes it would be challenging to figure out where the story picks back up again and/or when it picks up where the last chapter ends and their perspective is tagged in. I also felt that towards the end, there was a quite a bit of a jump in time (3 years), without a preface for doing so – I feel as if it was slightly rushed and would be interested to see what the parts Gargash summarized quickly would look like spelled out in more detail.

Read That Other Me if you like the themes of:

  • Rebelling
  • Family ties
  • Authority/Patriarchy
  • Determination
  • Fame/Fortune

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