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The Girl Who Fell to Earth
Cover of The Girl Who Fell to Earth
The Girl Who Fell to Earth
A Memoir
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Award-winning filmmaker and writer Sophia Al-Maria's The Girl Who Fell to Earth is a funny and wry coming-of-age memoir about growing up in between American and Gulf Arab cultures. With poignancy and...
Award-winning filmmaker and writer Sophia Al-Maria's The Girl Who Fell to Earth is a funny and wry coming-of-age memoir about growing up in between American and Gulf Arab cultures. With poignancy and...
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Description-

  • Award-winning filmmaker and writer Sophia Al-Maria's The Girl Who Fell to Earth is a funny and wry coming-of-age memoir about growing up in between American and Gulf Arab cultures. With poignancy and humor, Al-Maria shares the struggles of being raised by an American mother and Bedouin father while shuttling between homes in the Pacific Northwest and the Middle East. Part family saga and part personal quest, The Girl Who Fell to Earth traces Al-Maria's journey to make a place for herself in two different worlds.

About the Author-

  • Sophia Al-Maria is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. She studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, the New Museum in New York, and the Architectural Association in London. Her writing has appeared in Harper's, Five Dials, Triple Canopy, and Bidoun.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 8, 2012
    In this funny, insightful memoir, artist, filmmaker, and writer Al-Maria chronicles being raised by an American mother from rural Washington State and a Bedouin father from Qatar. After immigrating to America, marrying the author’s mother and building a life, Al-Maria’s father returns to Doha. Soon Al-Maria and her mother follow. Both have trouble settling into their new way of life. “Now that I knew there were two authorities in my life, Ma’s rules and the tribe’s rules, assimilation equaled rebellion.” When Al-Maria’s father takes a second wife, Al-Maria and her mother return to America. But tensions mount when the author enters fifth grade and becomes quite curious about sex, culminating with Al-Maria being sent back to her father in the Arabian Gulf. During high school her confusion mounts, causing what Al-Maria calls “cultural whiplash: “My situation had been thrown glaringly into focus by the proximity of my American and Arab worlds, which existed within a few roundabouts of each other.” Al-Maria’s narrative is laced with keen observations on Bedouin culture, class distinctions, sexual rules, and everyday life in the Middle East and America. Her story is a satisfying trek through a complex cross-cultural landscape toward a creative and satisfying life.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2012
    An Arab-American woman's riveting coming-of-age story. Born in Washington state to an American mother and Bedouin father, Al-Maria explores the contrasting worlds that brought her parents together and eventually spurred her to choose between them, opting at a young age to live with her father's extended family in Qatar. The author's father, Matar, came to the United States at age 19, outfitted in a used polyester suit and possessing little more than a desire to pursue the American dream. Soon after his arrival, Matar met and married Gale; within three years, Al-Maria and her sister were born, and Matar then decided to return to Qatar to ride the wave of economic development in the region. Two years later, Matar sent his young family in Washington a video of the prosperity in Doha that, for then-5-year-old Al-Maria, "permanently cracked the world into two halves." After venturing to Doha with her mother and sister for about a year and then returning to Washington for about six years after Gale found Matar had taken a second wife, Al-Maria's differences with her mother then prompted her parents to send her back to Doha at age 12. It is from here that the author's account of living with her extended family and noting class differences really shines. From an intimate vantage point, Al-Maria sees and translates challenges that the Bedouin, who lived for ages in the desert navigating by the stars, now face in the era of big cities and washers and dryers. What makes Al-Maria's story unique is not only its rare insider's glimpse of modern Bedouin life, but the outsider's sensibility that magnifies her exquisite observational gifts. Frank, funny and dauntless.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    October 15, 2012
    The writer was born in Seattle to an American farm girl and a Bedouin father, and he soon returned to Qatar, where he started a second family. As a young teen, Sophia is on the classic quest to find her father (and herself), and her wry, eloquent narrative does a great job of blending the viewpoints of the 12-year-old then and the adult writer now, while the intersection of contemporary cultures explodes the comfortable stereotypes, old and new. The girl is shocked by backward Bedouin traditions and deep sexual segregation, but she also remembers her American school segregation of jocks, geeks, and freaks, and very clearly by race, and she discovers that love in a culture of arranged marriage and sexual oppression can be far more complex than anything on MTV. As the action moves from the Nile delta to Cairo, her commentary gets it exactly right, and without a heavy message. The day was so full of these exotic people doing, well, normal stuff. Families like hers had the nouveau part without the riche. Great for reading aloud.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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    Harper Perennial
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