Behind You Is the Sea
by Susan Muaddi Darraj
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Pub Date 16 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 12 Mar 2024
“Behind You Is the Sea fearlessly confronts stereotypes about Palestinian culture, weaving a remarkable portrait of life's intricate moments, from joyous weddings to heart-wrenching funerals, from shattered hearts to hidden truths—I wept and grew alongside this family. This is a story that challenges perceptions, offering a heartfelt glimpse into the interior lives of those who call this community home. A must read novel with unforgettable characters and an unwavering, fresh voice—I couldn’t put it down until the very last page! Darraj delivers an instant, necessary, and authentic classic to the cannon of Arab-American literature.”—Etaf Rum, author of Evil Eye and A Woman Is No Man
An exciting debut novel that gives voice to the diverse residents of a Palestinian American community in Baltimore—from young activists in conflict with their traditional parents to the poor who clean for the rich—lives which intersect across divides of class, generation, and religion.
Funny and touching, Behind You Is the Sea brings us into the homes and lives of three main families—the Baladis, the Salamehs, and the Ammars—Palestinian immigrants who’ve all found a different welcome in America.
Their various fates and struggles cause their community dynamic to sizzle and sometimes explode: The wealthy Ammar family employs young Maysoon Baladi, whose own family struggles financially, to clean up after their spoiled teenagers. Meanwhile, Marcus Salameh confronts his father in an effort to protect his younger sister for “dishonoring” their name. Only a trip to Palestine, where Marcus experiences an unexpected and dramatic transformation, can bridge this seemingly unbridgeable divide between the two generations.
Behind You Is the Sea faces stereotypes about Palestinian culture head-on and, shifting perspectives to weave a complex social fabric replete with weddings, funerals, broken hearts, and devastating secrets.
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Average rating from 16 members
there were parts of this book that were really beautiful. i loved how the author wove together interconnected stories of the members of 3 different families. how each felt like a short story, but also a continuation. how the reader is exposed to various ways that Palestinian immigrants might experience america. the beautiful storytelling.
but there were also some problematic components that made my experience with this book difficult, including Arab stereotypes, misogyny and the glorification of policing