Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Green Bicycle

The Green Bicycle

YA audio CD
Too many books; too little time! I have a rapidly gowing list
of future reads that seems like if I printed it out it would encircle
the Orono Public Library or at least the children's wing where I
volunteer. So I decided to give audio books another try. Now I can
"read" while I do dishes, fold launddry, make the cat take
get the idea. Less wasted time. More reviews. Talk about a win
win. And I started with a most delightful novel.
If you're like me you have fond childhood memories of bike
riding. Maybe you loved the freedom it gave you. Maybe you treasured
the feeling of flying down a hill, breezes mitigating even muggy
summer heat. Maybe you enjoyed racing, putting out maximum effort to
be the fastest. Now imagine how you would feel of these pleasures had
been denied you because of your gender. Then you will have a feel for
the plight of Wadjda, protagonist of Haifaa Al Mansour's The Green
Wadjda, 11, deeply desires to own a beautiful green bicycle she
has seen in the window of a toy store. She longs to race her good
friend, Abdullah, instead of always plodding along the dusty streets
of Saudi Arabia. But bike riding is not considered appropriate for
girls. In fact at her age she is about to lose the few privileges
afforded to her because of youth. She's expected to begin to wear the
restrictive garments of adulthood and focus on attaining the proper
goals of women: waiting on a husband and giving him sons to carry on
the family name.
Wadjda's mother is facing challenges of her own. Her daughter's
behavior concerns her. Getting to her teaching job is sometimes
difficult. Women are not allowed to drive; paid drivers are not
always safe and reliable. She's heartbroken that her husband, egged
on by his mother, is going to take a second wife. It's not that he
doesn't love his first wife. It's all about her being unable to give
him that all important male child. In his country that gives him a
free pass.
This captivating and poignant novel would make a perfect read
for a mother daughter book club. Just about everyone in this country
can glean much insight. I learned things. During my children's
earliest years when I ran a typing business for UMaine students my
most frequent customers were Saudis needing advice not only on
spelling and grammar, but on navigating life in the United States,
sometimes with family.
On a personal note, when I was Wadjda's age, growing up in a
Massachusetts industrial town, skateboard riding bore stigma, at least
where I lived. Girls didn't. Nice boys didn't. The boys who did
were the future motorcycle riders who would wear white tee shirts with
rolled up sleeves in which to stash Marlboros, be the bain of
principals' work lives, and get girls knocked up in the back seats of
As I recall in my sixth grade class the skateboard riders were boys
from the wrong side of the tracks...
...and me, the older daughter of a college professor and a
college librarian.
A great big shout out goes out to girls and women who follow dreams.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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