Bride of the Sea

Reviewed by Sara Lang

Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah, Portland, OR: Tin House, 303 pages, $16.95

Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah is a novel that captivates the reader from the very first page and with the cover. It focuses on relationships and their evolution and decay over a period of time. It surrounds a family, the mother named Saeedah, the father, Muneer, and the daughter: Hanadi. Basically, the two parents end up getting a divorce, and the mother worries about losing Hanadi so runs away with her. Muneer obviously searches for her for many years. He was supposed to move back to Saudi Arabia, where his family is from. When Hanadi grows up, she is obviously caught in the middle of this conflict. Does she belong in the United States with her mother, or in Saudi Arabia with her father and other family?

This book was so interesting to me because it combined two different cultures seamlessly, exposing readers to a different world. It begins in Cleveland, one of the most Caucasian cities you can think of in the US, and involves Saudi Arabia, where the two characters come from. It is like a collision – both with these cultures and how they play out in Hanadi’s world. She is torn between two worlds that she has, one she has grown up with, and one that she just knows about. It reminds me of a coming of age novel because she grows into her own and has to accept both sides of her. It also tackles the idea of immigration and finding your place in a new country. It is obviously difficult to be an immigrant, especially in the US, and then return to the country that you were born in – especially when your daughter has been taken by your wife. I thought that Quotah did a wonderful job of expressing those feelings and making the reader empathize with the characters.