The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria

The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Historical, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

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.

Sophia is a young woman caught between two worlds. She was born in America to an American mother and a Bedouin father and goes back and forth between the Seattle area and the Middle East, specifically Qatar. Sophia’s comments on her experiences are brutally honest, at times humorous, and at others, tragic.

Her delightful insights allow readers to get a feel for what it is like growing up with two very different value systems pulling at her. She is strong, independent, and takes chances, based on her internal callings. Her father wishes for her to be more traditional, and when she lives with his family, she resents being constrained due to her gender and does something about it. Her father’s people are minorities in their own land though. Other more modern groups see them as “backwards,” and Sophia has to manage her feelings about this.

It is gripping to follow along and see how Sophia handles the cultural clashes and especially situations with young men. The other characters are so realistically drawn that readers can feel what Sophia feels in encountering and interacting with them. The author’s descriptions of the two worlds are stark and bring her point across well.

As Sophia grows up, goes to college in Egypt, and continuously tries find herself, readers will be entertained, surprised at times, and moved emotionally by the talented author telling her story.

This was an enjoyable book, and I would recommend it to others. I would definitely read more from this author.

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