Prime Painted Hands Author Jennifer Zobair – Cheapnikeshoes.co

I have to be honest and say I hated, absolutely hated the first 100 pages of this book I with this close to putting in down and writing a negative, truncated review I thought the first 100 pages of the book relied heavily on prejudiced characters and overwhelming stereotypes Mostly of westerners Americans highly promiscuous women made unhappy by such behavior sex obsessed American men focused only on conquering women and not interested in real, deep relationships and other types it s not necessary to keep listing I was totally and completely confused about what audience the author was targeting, or attempting to write the story for since even I, a convert to Islam and a fellow Georgetown alum, was offended and turned off by the stereotypes she was promoting i.e be religious, modest and chaste and it ll solve ALL of your problems.With that said, the book completely redeems itself in the second half, and especially the last 50 pages All of the main characters grow in depth and complexity They grow human, likable and realistic although my criticism remains in the first 100 pages, why the author could not have made surrounding secondary characters less extreme, less stereotypical, I don t know The author, Jennifer, does a beautiful job showing the complexity of the female Muslim experience feminist Muslims, Muslim American women trying to juggle work and family just like American women of all faiths, traditional Muslims, and yes, even giving voice to extremist fundamentalist Muslims and their rather warped views She unveils the Muslim community very accurately, showing many of the community s dominating cultural characteristics i.e women often being treated as second class citizens in mosques in the US, while outside the mosques they are equal and free and strong But not just the bad characteristics, the good as well i.e beautiful, diverse language, food and clothing the Rahmah r h m or sensitivity embracing traits of women, the kindness of so many Muslim men She also does a wonderful job of community the Catch 22 of the Muslim community s relationship with terrorism where the world demands that Muslims constantly denounce Islamic terrorism, despite the fact the Muslims do constantly denounce it, and loudly such statements simply don t get covered by the news How Muslims are supposed to prove that terrorism is not of Islam, and not of individual Muslims, but that other communities do and always have committed similar violence and are not asked to make the same protestations as a Christian, are you asked to denounce Timothy McVeigh s attack in Oklahoma Or Christian terrorists in India Or Christian terrorists in Indonesia Or the widescale Christian violence silence of the Holocaust How, on an individual level, terrorism has nothing to do with 98% of individual Muslims, and by demanding such protests, it inherently tries to link these individual humans to a violent movement that has NO tie to them.The best part of the whole book takes place on page 293, when a main character, Zainab, talks about the lonely, isolated position of being a feminist Muslim Reviled by much of the non Muslim American community, but also reviled by her own religious community How non Muslims connect her to terrorism, of which she has no part, but then Muslims demand she speak up for Islam, when they revile her as not being traditional enough, covered enough, and they, themselves, treat her as a second class citizen And then the author beautifully answers these criticisms for calling the situation what it is change, a revolution And revolutions are always fought by those they aim to upend, by the larger majority, but those that find their power and hegemony challenged The whole conversation between two women in this part of the book clearly and succinctly sums up the position of many strong, educated, powerful Muslim women and the battle they fight often on a daily basis in their jobs, their communities, their relationships with their neighbors, and yes, in the Muslim community.My one remaining criticism of the book is that there was not in the story for one character, May Al Ansari She is a hijab wearing Muslim feminist who is brilliant, compassionate, and yes, for many American and worldwide Muslim women, the s called ideal She juggles family and professional success She is uncompromising a Muslim, unapologetic, and yet unforgiving of the Muslim community s often large scale backwardness, ignorance, lack of progressive thinking, etc The book spends a lot of time showing how strong and forward thinking non hijab i.e westernized Muslims the three main characters are and only introduces May at the end, and as an exception She s not an exception I know so many similar such women, women wearing scarves with masters degrees from MIT and Harvard, women traveling the world as international consultants, women doing development agricultural work in Africa and Asia and the Middle East Having the book s main characters surprised by such a woman, enthralled by such a woman, makes her seem like a Muslim unicorn, and that s not an accurate portrayal of the fact that such women ARE active in the American Muslim community With that said, I DO appreciate how the author shows that Muslim women come in all shapes and sizes i.e professional, traditional, liberal, conservative, western clothes wearing, scarf wearing, etc., etc And that these variations are not an indication of how religious they are, or the levels of their faith, it s simply various descriptions of the women as human beings.One other critical note I DO think the author s overall mindset is less writing an enjoyable novel than a structuring a story that attempts to make arguments I felt like each character was created with a specific stereotype in mind good and bad , and did specific actions to try and get across the author s various political, religious and philosophical beliefs The book is rather like a fable, meant as a teaching tool I think OVERALL this does not detract from the fact that the novel is good, the characters and the story well developed, but it s quite obvious earlier in the book.With all of this said, I HIGHLY recommend the book just grit your teeth those first 100 pages for non Muslims and Muslims alike For non Muslims, it s a great window into the Muslim community in the US, with a focus on Muslim women And for Muslim women it provides some great characters to enjoy and some good answers to questions regarding the above mentioned religious Catch 22 I enjoyed it, and will look forward to the author s next book. When I was in high school I read everything Allen Drury had written up to that point Many of them had written before I was even born, so they were a bit dated, but they gave me a love of political fiction that remains to this day, and probably explains my lingering obsession with The West Wing as well It is this love that was the main reason I accepted TLC s offer to read and review Jennifer Zobair s first novel Painted Hands.I started reading the book a few days ago, and I ll confess to being a bit worried that I d have to read a ton of neo con propaganda when I noticed the bit about the lead character, Zainab, working for a Republican politician My fears were quickly quelled, but I didn t have a chance to really absorb the book until yesterday, when I planted myself at my kitchen table with a pot of coffee, one too many English muffins, and NPR playing on the radio In fact it was a program featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talking about why having a single story is a bad thing and it was the perfect complement to Zobair s book The practical upshot of all this Painted Hands is one of the best books I ve read all year All of the women Zainab, and her best friend Amra, especially, but also Rukan feel like the sort of women you might run into if you live and work in a major city They are three dimensional, and may share common religious roots, but are distinctly different women, as they should be Amra s anglo friend colleague Hayden is as well developed as the others, and her story, too, is compelling Likewise, the men in the story are all fully formed Chase, the right wing radio personality and Mateen, the childhood crush turned potential love interest are complex, each with their own desires and flaws.On the NPR show this morning, the creators of Toy Story said that one of the first rules of storytelling is to make the reader viewer care Jennifer Zobair did this with every character she created Even with the characters I didn t like, I still wanted to know what their story was, and whether it would end well.More than just making me care about her characters, however, Zobair s writing let me glimpse a culture other than my own Spending my formative years with just my mother, and growing up in a liberal family where the ultimate dinner table whining would be an accusatory, But MOM He made a Sexist Statement the whole notion of HAVING to get married is as foreign to me as putting cheddar cheese on pizza was the first time I encountered it in California, and I ve never had to live with proscriptions against any kind of clothing or makeup except blue eyeshadow, but that really should be illegal in most cases anyway.In Painted Hands, however, we get to see the way Islam is practiced in a variety of American families, and what it means to have one foot in the modern world and another in a conservative religious tradition As someone who wasn t raised in any particular religion we are culturally Catholic, attended the UU church on and off, and, as an adult, my Baptist husband met me half way and we re Episcopalian , getting a peek into any spiritual practice is fascinating to me.I m very fortunate to have a circle of friends and acquaintances from many countries, cultures, and religions for those who don t, or even if they do, Painted Hands is an excellent introduction to Muslim American culture, wrapped in a great story.Goes well with a really good korma I like chicken, but vegetarian is good and iced mint tea. Muslim Bad Girl Zainab Mir Has Just Landed A Job Working For A Post Feminist, Republican Senate Candidate Her Best Friend Amra Abbas Is About To Make Partner At A Top Boston Law Firm Together They Ve Thwarted Proposal Slinging Aunties, Cultural Expectations, And The Occasional Bigot To Succeed In Their Careers What They Didn T Count On Unlikely Men And Geopolitical FirestormsWhen A Handsome Childhood Friend Reappears, Amra Makes Choices That Zainab Considers So S Choices That Involve The Perfect Banarasi Silk Dress And A Four Bedroom House In The Suburbs After Hiding Her Long Work Hours During Their Courtship, Amra Struggles To Balance Her Demanding Job And Her Unexpectedly Traditional New HusbandZainab Has Her Own Problems She Generates Controversy In The Muslim Community With A Suggestive Magazine Spread And Friendship With A Gay Reporter Her Rising Profile Also Inflames Neocons Like Chase Holland, The Talk Radio Host Who Attacks Her Religion Publicly But Privately Falls For Her Hard When The Political Fallout From A Terrorist Attempt Jeopardizes Zainab S Job And Protests Surrounding A Woman Led Muslim Prayer Service Lead To Violence, Amra And Zainab Must Decide What They Re Willing To Risk For Their Principles, Their Friendship, And Love Painted Hands is the story of two very different women Both are Muslim Americans and although Amna and Zainab have grown up as best friends but now they are on very different paths This is a fascinating story of friendship and culture and trying to find one s place in the world I really enjoyed this book I was drawn into this story of friendship from the very beginning Amna and Zainab were so fascinating to me They both came from similar environments but they change into such different people I really liked the unique voice that the author created for each of them I thought the author did a really good job of showing us where each character was coming from The writing was great and really drew me in I absolutely love books that can introduce me to new places and new cultures In Painted Hands, it s a new culture that had me riveted I love reading about people who have very different lives than my own The cool thing about people with different lives is that we are still all human and therefore, we can still find some common ground You get an intimate glimpse into the worlds of the characters.Overall, this was a great story Jennifer Zobair, in PAINTED HANDS, creates a cast of characters that give a fascinating look at Muslim American culture Within her story about navigating love and life while balancing Muslim religious and cultural beliefs with an American way of life, Zobair provides an array of characters covering the spectrum between devout followers of Islam and those who reject the beliefs of family and childhood.The story follows a group of friends for than a year as they juggle careers, political differences, the trials and tribulations of love and prejudice Setting aside for a moment that the characters are Muslim, Zobair easily captures the conflict all women face between the desire to be true to themselves and their own beliefs and the pain we feel when we reject the desires and expectations of family and friends Layered on top of that is the heavy blanket of cultural responsibility and the judgment of a community that expects you to support its long standing traditions whether they are good for you or not Or good for society as a whole.PAINTED HANDS can be read simply as a story about women facing these issues, or it can be read on a deeper level with an exploration of Muslim American culture and the politics of being Muslim in America I enjoyed getting insights into a world I ve had little exposure to and also think Zobair does a fantastic job of illustrating how, when you strip everything else away, we are all just human beings, the same as each other, trying to find our own happy place in the world To enhance your reading experience, check out the book club questions at Ms Zobair s site Some great thought provoking questions I want to quote the whole book Jennifer Zobair s Painted Hands, as well as a squee worthy, page turning chick lit about two Pakistani American women managing love and careers, Painted Hands is also an incisive, honest, but compassionate look at the lives of modern Muslim men and women In Amra, Zainab, and their friends, Zobair manages to convey a myriad of viewpoints and issues in the Muslim community It requires a specific type of author to approach this subject, an author quite self aware and socially intelligent in order to examine her own biases and see Muslims as fully fleshed, heterogeneous people, as well as familiarity with no, love for Muslims I say this because some Muslims make it easy to generalize and almost match certain stereotypes Zobair doesn t jump on the self hating, jingoistic, Merica bandwagon, but neither does she abide the cowardly, finger pointing lack of self examination where some prefer to blame the West and plunge their heads into the sand rather than care about women or entertain any questions about tradition or the status quo.But this is not a textbook Zobair avoids the land mines in these discussions by letting her characters stories and lives speak for themselves There s no debating reality Zainab and Amra could be real women, they re that realistic, and in them we see the outcome, the effects, of certain, unquestioned beliefs when they re played to their natural conclusion, where many don t think that far If the effect is unquestionably wrong, can the belief still be justified Zobair lets audiences draw their own conclusions with characters across a religious spectrum, liberal, conservative, etc She doesn t dehumanize any of them I m very abstract here, but Zobair demonstrates many times, without her characters spewing sound bytes, where religion and the realities of life conflict or don t I ll try and add them to this review later Zobair actually knows their lives, as opposed to the many Muslim men and non Muslim men and women who ve written about Muslim women or chosen to ignore them except as justification for violence, apparently I was nodding my head so often.She does much better justice to this subject than many Muslim or non Muslim novelists and screenwriters, where Muslims are written as they are supposed to be, according to the ideals of some Muslims or according to the lessons in a World Religions 101 course, rather than a reflection of actual people and investigating relevant questions, as literature or art does Except for Quantico Watch it Questions like, what s a Muslim woman supposed to be So, in sum, if you want to see the dilemmas relevant to modern Muslim women that aren t caricatures and are actually approaching reality, if you like a mishmash of social issues, chick lit and politics because Zainab is a campaign staffer read this now. Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair is the engaging, twisting narrative of an unlikely set of characters Zainab Mir, the high powered glamorous head of a Republican political campaign Amra Abbas, workaholic lawyer who puts in brutal hours in the hopes that she ll make it to partner of the firm Hayden Palmer, fellow lawyer, party girl and unlucky in love and Chase Holland, radio show host and golden boy for bigoted neo cons.Painted Hands falls somewhere between the categories of ethnic fiction and Muslim chick lit yet such a characterisation does not give justice to the story s ability to draw the reader in and impart lessons so subtly that it takes a moment to even realise it.There s something for everyone in the narrative Zainab is unabashedly secular, yet her brief brush with members of a local masjid reveals the hurt she feels at having herself, her work and even her sexuality openly judged and condemned by those who know nothing about her Amra is both relieved and afraid to get married, in love with her fianc but unable to confess the extent of her obsession with work and, later, when she becomes a mother, struggles to know what she wants in comparison to the pressures of those around her Chase Holland makes his living bashing Islam and Muslims, but finds that his bluster is harder to keep up around Zainab s fiery challenges Hayden takes her shahadah declaration of faith and is drawn into a circle of conservative immigrants, who briskly arrange her marriage and prod her into their own type of activism.The series of events that brings them together in the most unlikely of conflicts is a fascinating journey that culminates in an intriguing, unexpected crescendo that is as poetic as it is dramatic.The weaving of every thread of the narrative echoes the complexity and beauty of the henna patterns that the book is named after Politics, culture, religion and romance are entwined and explored the relationships between the characters and their struggles link to each other subtly yet meaningfully No conflict is over simplified or glossed over and although the book and its main characters are distinctly liberal, there is enough nuance and honesty in it that it can truly appeal to a wide and varied audience.Although the characters are fictional, their stories are reflections of reality Muslim women come from backgrounds as varied asthose of Zainab, Amra and Hayden and have lives that are just as complex and rich as theirs Painted Hands is both an acknowledgement and appreciation of what it means to be a Muslim woman in the modern Western world.Reviewed by AnonyMouse Zainab bint Younus for Issue 52 of SISTERS Magazine. As a white, atheist, Irish American feminist, I am having a hard time analyzing this book I m certainly going to try, but what do I do know about Painted Hands is that it is exceedingly well written, gripping, and thoughtful.Review to come. I gulped up this page turner of a book which grabbed my attention and wouldn t let go until the very end There is really just not enough literature out there that lets you into the world and thinking of Muslim American people This is the kind of book that starts conversations and dialogues which is why I call it literature It touches all the button points of the fear and and hate issues that rise from Islamic faith and terrorism in America, and what it is like to be a Muslim American living in a culture that is so whooped up by these fears But it doesn t do so in a nail driving the point home kind of manner, it does it through personal relationships with highly compelling and 3 dimensional characters that I found very easy to relate to I found the writing style to be flawless and wonderfully entertaining, and I found myself emotionally involved in a gripping manner You can read other reviews to get a thorough gist of the plot, but I don t think an explanation of the plot does justice to the deeper zeitgeist this work embodies You just have to read it, and then have someone else read it so you can talk about it with them. Kat s ReviewLet s cut to the chase I Loved This Book Period What You want FINE.This author wrote a novel that should be a simple story depicting the lives of several women who struggle to make the choices that are right for them despite the cultural and religious expectations of family and friends However, with the tense relations between many Muslim and non Muslim Americans still so prevalent today, this really is a brave story showing the struggles that Muslim women face both from within the Muslim community and from society at large I love that this isn t a one size fits all approach, or an attempt to paint all Muslims with a single brush At first I was concerned that the women were going to be one dimensional in their differences Zainab, who is for the most part a secular American woman, working in politics and eschewing any talk of domesticity, and Amra, who is a high powered lawyer but falls for a childhood crush and trades everything in for domesticity and a house in the suburbs Instead, the novel delves into the nuances of each woman s choices, showing in unflinching detail the conflict and compromise each makes along the way Although Zainab and Amra are the two main characters, there is a strong supporting cast of characters, from the white female office worker who falls for a Muslim man and then coverts to a particularly strict form of Islam when he leaves her, to Amra s new husband, struggling to understand Amra s dedication to her job and questioning her dedication to him, to Chase Holland, who vilifies Muslims for a living but finds himself in love with one against all odds I m sure there will be people who will criticize the portrayal of Islam in this book, claiming that the author simplified this or glossed over that, but I disagree There s not one face of Islam, not one way that people worship, for right or for wrong Within every culture and every religion people live their lives in a multitude of ways, reconciling their faith or lack thereof with their day to day choices That, for me, is what this book is really about Recognizing that there is that diversity within the Muslim community, and that each path followed has its own set of outcomes Hopefully, people can approach this as what it is a wonderful work of fiction with well drawn characters and a realistic plot that gets people thinking, regardless of where their beliefs lie Rating All ConsumingDid I mention that I loved this book No Go get it It s worth every cent you ll pay I got an advanced ebook copy of it, but with that gorgeous cover, I ll be buying a hardcover copy to keep.I received a copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.