Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening

A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassett...

Title:Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening
Author:
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ISBN:1476793026
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:304 pages

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening Reviews

  • Linda
    Jan 29, 2017

    Well written and incredibly interesting. First hand account of growing up as a female in modern day Saudia Arabia. Manal al-Sharif details her strict religious upbringing (and period of extremism), schooling, male dominated culture, marriages, and struggle to change some of the inequalities against women (specifically, the ban against women driving). I was surprised to see that, not only were women forbidden from driving STILL, but they also needed a male guardian's permission to do anything. It

    Well written and incredibly interesting. First hand account of growing up as a female in modern day Saudia Arabia. Manal al-Sharif details her strict religious upbringing (and period of extremism), schooling, male dominated culture, marriages, and struggle to change some of the inequalities against women (specifically, the ban against women driving). I was surprised to see that, not only were women forbidden from driving STILL, but they also needed a male guardian's permission to do anything. It is downright shocking that this is still happening! Kudos to Manal al-Sharif for taking a stand and speaking out against these inequalities.

    *Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  • Care
    Apr 22, 2017

    is a blunt, honest, and captivating memoir that describes Manal al-Sharif's story. al-Sharif tells of her childhood growing up in Mecca where she was educated according to strict religious doctrines and her journey to being imprisoned for driving while female. While not a legal violation in Saudi Arabia, women driving goes against Saudi tradition and is subject to the religious police interfering. al-Sharif was imprisoned in a jail with terrible conditions while the outside news

    is a blunt, honest, and captivating memoir that describes Manal al-Sharif's story. al-Sharif tells of her childhood growing up in Mecca where she was educated according to strict religious doctrines and her journey to being imprisoned for driving while female. While not a legal violation in Saudi Arabia, women driving goes against Saudi tradition and is subject to the religious police interfering. al-Sharif was imprisoned in a jail with terrible conditions while the outside news world told egregious lies slandering her. This book is an incredible look into Saudi society and especially the lives of Saudi women.

    This memoir is incredibly well-written and evocative. Perhaps it's strongest aspect is how upfront and honest al-Sharif is about various aspects of her life, including her own foray into religious extremism and her damaged familial relationships. She provides a full picture of growing up as a girl in Saudi Arabia, telling a compelling and infuriating story of what it means to be a woman in this country. An inspiring read, I recommend this to all mature readers (there are some descriptions of violence and brutality).

    Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for a fair review!

  • abby
    Apr 10, 2017

    When Manal al-Sharif got behind the wheel of the car she'd spent years making payments on and rode onto the city streets of Saudi Arabia, she was sure she had the law behind her. After all, a woman driving a car is not

    so much as it is against tradition. Manal quickly learned how very little the legality of it all mattered to the Saudi secret police. She was arrested and thrown into a women's prison with appalling conditions. Like many of her fellow f

    When Manal al-Sharif got behind the wheel of the car she'd spent years making payments on and rode onto the city streets of Saudi Arabia, she was sure she had the law behind her. After all, a woman driving a car is not

    so much as it is against tradition. Manal quickly learned how very little the legality of it all mattered to the Saudi secret police. She was arrested and thrown into a women's prison with appalling conditions. Like many of her fellow female inmates, she was never charged with a crime. Manal started to fear she had "disappeared" and would never see her young son again.

    What begins with the story of breaking the social taboo of driving while female, continues with not just the memoir of al-Sharif's own life, but with a story of womanhood at large in the Saudi Kingdom. The author recounts the humiliating experience of her circumcision, of her mother calling her by her brother's name in public because the mere sound of a female name could incite lust in men, and how her beloved male cousins never saw her again after her first period (she literally wouldn't recognize them today if she passed them on street). Even so, Manal was a fervent fundamentalist in her youth. All day at her girls school, she indoctrinated, told rigid adherence to extreme Islam was the only path to Heaven. She often searched through her family's belongings, destroying anything considered forbidden.

    Al-Sharif's parents didn't always need convincing to strict adherence to Islamic law and custom. Her father beat her mother, as is considered his right, and both, in turn, beat the author and her siblings. But her mother was determined that her children, son and daughters both, would get an education. The father who beat her and denied her in the name of being her male guardian (and having the final word in all matters of her life), drove six hours a day to shuttle her to and fro college. Manal earns a computer science degree and starts working for a Saudi company that operates on a compound immune from the restrictions placed on the country at large. While on the compound, women can drive, forgo the niqab or even the hijab, work with men, and rent an apartment without written permission from her male guardian. But if al-Sharif ever wanted to leave the compound, she would have to hire a male driver. These drivers are often unlicensed and reckless. Fed up, al-Sharif joined a movement called Women2Drive that encouraged Saudi women to take video of themselves driving and post it on social media. It was a turning point for Manal, but she paid a heavy price.

    This is a really compelling book. It brought to light many aspects of Saudi culture of which I was previously ignorant. I wish Manal the best of luck as she goes forward in her efforts to liberate the women of her country.

    Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for giving me a copy of this book to review.

  • Esil
    Jun 17, 2017

    I can't begin to imagine what it feels like to live in a society in which there are so many restrictions on women's rights and freedoms. Daring to Drive is Manal al-Sharif's memoir of her life in Saudi Arabia. Her claim to fame is that she was arrested for driving, and that she has led a campaign to give women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Manal's writing is straightforward and powerful. She recounts her childhood, her university years, her first marriage and her work as the only woman in

    I can't begin to imagine what it feels like to live in a society in which there are so many restrictions on women's rights and freedoms. Daring to Drive is Manal al-Sharif's memoir of her life in Saudi Arabia. Her claim to fame is that she was arrested for driving, and that she has led a campaign to give women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Manal's writing is straightforward and powerful. She recounts her childhood, her university years, her first marriage and her work as the only woman in a tech group in a state owned company. Throughout she makes very clear the practical, physical and emotional impact of the restrictions on women's freedom in Saudi Arabia. Not being allowed to drive is just one example, but it means that women have little freedom of movement, limiting their access to education, work and even basic health services, while placing them at the mercy of male drivers. From my perspective, what Manal describes feels incredibly claustrophobic, reading like some kind of dystopian fiction. Manal's book is important because it is told from the perspective of a woman who grew up in Saudi Arabia. This is not the judgemental view of an outsider, but rather the perspective of someone who has lived the nuances of her society. In many ways, her parents are despicable but they are the products of their world and Manal sees the good and the bad in them, ultimately loving them for their strengths. She does not denounce her religion, but she denounces the manner in which it has been interpreted. Manal no longer lives in Saudi Arabia, but I would hope that she will share future memoirs about her life as she clearly still has a lot to say and contribute to issues of women's rights in the Middle East. Highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Kat
    Apr 15, 2017

    I had the enormous privilege to meet Manal a couple of weeks ago, at the bookstore I manage. Thank goodness the world has strong, determined women like Manal! To be so young & to have gone through so much, standing up for a horrendous patriarchal world (as a whole, & in particular, Saudi Arabia), but still to be lovely, positive, & generous - a true hero. An inspiration for us all.

    I know the Western world still has a long way to go in terms of the way women still get treated at the h

    I had the enormous privilege to meet Manal a couple of weeks ago, at the bookstore I manage. Thank goodness the world has strong, determined women like Manal! To be so young & to have gone through so much, standing up for a horrendous patriarchal world (as a whole, & in particular, Saudi Arabia), but still to be lovely, positive, & generous - a true hero. An inspiration for us all.

    I know the Western world still has a long way to go in terms of the way women still get treated at the hands of men; but the outrageous stories in this book, some simply occurring due to the fact that women are not given the opportunity to get a car license - family members dying as there was only a woman home for example - really serve to put in perspective how far some countries really have to go.

    A must read, although of course, sadly the people who most need to read it, will be the ones who would rather burn it.

  • Diane S ☔
    Jun 01, 2017

    A comprehensive and honest rendering of a woman's life in Saudi Arabia. For any curious about if what you hear and see on the television is true, this book will astonish, fill in many blanks about living in a country ruled by Sharia law. A country where the religious police are given even more power than the law. The author takes us through her childhood, living in Mecca, her parents, a sister she was often at odds with and her beloved brother. Where a woman is allowed to do so little on her own

    A comprehensive and honest rendering of a woman's life in Saudi Arabia. For any curious about if what you hear and see on the television is true, this book will astonish, fill in many blanks about living in a country ruled by Sharia law. A country where the religious police are given even more power than the law. The author takes us through her childhood, living in Mecca, her parents, a sister she was often at odds with and her beloved brother. Where a woman is allowed to do so little on her own, where a male family member or guardian must intercede and give approval for the smallest thing, even medical care.

    Will show how the younger generation is being radicalized​, and the basis for the commitment in Sharia law by this younger group. Some of this I knew but never in such detail. It is almost unbelievable some of the things that are both allowed, and I know most readers will find some of these events shocking. The bravery and the honesty, of this young woman who no longer lives in this county though still maintains close ties there, is awe inspiring. Things are changing, but so very slowly and due to woman such as these who put their lives and happiness on the line for others. A very profound telling, written in a very personal way, I came away with so much admiration for this woman and her strength. A book that makes me realize that no matter how unhappy I am with what is going on in the political arena and onslaught​s on woman's rights, I am still lucky to live in the country I do. It also showed me the importance of defending what we do have and standing up for what we believe.

  • Naomi Blackburn
    Jul 02, 2017

    My first 10/5 Star Review for 2017.

    To call this book AMAZING really understates the impact of the book. This author doesn't hold back in her words and experiences. Absolutely powerful. So, I am going to do something that I really never do in a review. I am going to swear...This book is FUCKING amazing! If you are a woman, READ THIS BOOK! If you believe in women's rights need to be demanded in a country that treats women as though they are nothing more than livestock...READ THIS BOOK. It is easy

    My first 10/5 Star Review for 2017.

    To call this book AMAZING really understates the impact of the book. This author doesn't hold back in her words and experiences. Absolutely powerful. So, I am going to do something that I really never do in a review. I am going to swear...This book is FUCKING amazing! If you are a woman, READ THIS BOOK! If you believe in women's rights need to be demanded in a country that treats women as though they are nothing more than livestock...READ THIS BOOK. It is easy to scream about the rights of women in countries where one doesn't have to fear prison or death in doing so. Totally different when one is jailed simply for driving a car.

    I know a book is fantastic when I have to force myself to put a book down to attend to other books I am reading or the job and I am looking for any reason to pull it up on any device I can find. That was this book. It is a rarity for me these days.

    I have to say when I made the final call of the book earning a 10/5 stars from me was in reviewing the Goodreads 1 star reviews for it. Eighty percent of them were from males in Middle Eastern countries with no review given. It confirmed EVERYTHING this woman had the guts and courage to write about in being called a whore and other names simply for speaking out OR walking on a street unaccompanied.

    This book is simply put is just pure #womenpower.

    (reviewed for publisher through netgalley)

  • Debbie
    Jul 09, 2017

    This is a gripping true story told by Manal, a woman in Saudi Arabia who got arrested by the “religious police” for driving while female. There is no law that forbids women from driving, but the religious police are powerful. One evening they took her from her house, interrogated her for hours, and then threw her in jail, with feces underfoot and cockroaches in her bed. She wasn’t in jail a long time, but her story was all the more sad because she had a yo

    This is a gripping true story told by Manal, a woman in Saudi Arabia who got arrested by the “religious police” for driving while female. There is no law that forbids women from driving, but the religious police are powerful. One evening they took her from her house, interrogated her for hours, and then threw her in jail, with feces underfoot and cockroaches in her bed. She wasn’t in jail a long time, but her story was all the more sad because she had a young son whose mom suddenly disappeared into the night.

    What shines through is her courage and perseverance to better the conditions for women in her country. People have called her the Muslim version of Rosa Parks. I know I wouldn’t have had the nerve to go up against the authorities; I would have been terrified of the consequences.

    The whole time I was reading, I became more and more fascinated to learn details of a culture I knew very little about. At the same time, of course, I was thoroughly appalled by the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. I could have been reading this for an anthropology course, and I was thirsty to learn everything I could. What was weird is that because the rules for women’s behavior are so strict, I felt like I was learning about a culture from long ago. But nope, this stuff is happening today. In fact, Manal’s story could only be told because of our modern world of social media: she originally got attention for her brave act because she and her friends videotaped her driving, and the video went viral.

    She calls herself an “accidental activist” because she didn’t set out to stir things up so much; she had no idea that the whole world would be watching. It begs the question: Without social media, would anyone have heard her protests? For the most part I’m not a fan of social media, but here, it played a critical role in getting her important story out to the world.

    Manal is a good storyteller—she keeps it personal and intimate while at the same time maintaining the objective distance of a good journalist. The writing is good, the facts a-plenty. And the facts of the matter—what her life was like—are pretty horrendous. I guess because she was used to it (it was the only thing she knew), she often has sort of a matter-of-fact attitude. She was used to the oppression, the unfair rules, because that’s how she, her family, and her friends lived.

    The interesting thing is that Manal was very religious when she was young, adhering to one of the most radical Muslim groups. She enforced the rules, even to the point of destroying her brother’s cassette tapes and generally hassling her family when they didn’t observe the customs. The restrictions for women—having to cover their faces when going out, not being able to be around boys, for example, are many. There are also a lot of superstitions, which she chronicles well. The worst crime against women is genital mutilation, which doesn’t happen to every girl—but it happened to her when she was 8. Her description will stick in my mind forever.

    So how did this devout Muslim who obeyed the religious laws and customs end up becoming this activist who helped women get more freedom in Saudi Arabia? The answer is education. Although Manal’s parents were brutal in many ways, both of them kept pushing her to get more and more education—her father spent most of his day driving Manal to and from college. As her world expanded in college, so did her consciousness. Her eyes, which used to be mostly hidden by a niqab, were now wide open. She ended up working in computer science at an American-like company that had its own little town and more relaxed rules. She was allowed to drive within that area but could not drive outside it. When she did one day decide to drive outside the area, that’s when her story started to be told.

    I have two minor complaints. Early on, Manal devoted a little time to describing the religious history, which I found a tad boring. And at about the two-thirds mark, she goes into too many tiny details about her getting prepared to do her drive. We're talking super minor here. Neither of these things prevented me from giving this book 5 stars.

    Manal no longer lives in Saudi Arabia, although she still has ties there. In fact, she has a son there whom she could not take with her. She has another son, and her two sons have never been able to meet each other. She spends a lot of time in the public eye, telling her story and supporting women in Saudi Arabia.

    This is an eye-opener of a book—and this is one amazing woman. Highly recommended.

    Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

    P.S. As of July 11, 2017, this book is still available as a Read Now from NetGalley.

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