143. Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

There are days when you need something to read which is light, funny, quick and doesn’t require you to have taken an Intro into Greek Mythology.

It is fine of you have, but the brain power to digest such rich text isn’t available 24/7, you know?

So when I found Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea, it was exactly what I needed after having finished The Professor Charlotte Bronte which wasn’t an enjoyable read for me.

More about that will be discussed in a later blog post. But for now lets focus on Girls of Riyadh.

The book can easily be described as Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girls but set in Saudi Arabia. My main motivation for picking up this book was the title, as I spent 5 years growing up in Riyadh and literally loved the city and the people to bits.

So, obviously when I saw this book sitting on the shelf in Lets Read Oman center, I had to pick it up, for all times sake.

The story is about 4 friends: Sadeem, Michelle, Lamees and Gumrah, and follows their struggles with love, education, mostly men, and battling the stereotypes among the people of Riyadh.

Narrated by an unknown girl who sends the stories of these 4 girls in a series of emails, she instantly becomes viral and attracts both hate and adoration. This is ironic and funny because the author also faced the same critique and admiration when the book released.

“As for love, it still might always struggle to come out into the light of day in Saudi Arabia. You can sense that in the sighs of bored men sitting alone at cafes, in the shining eyes of veiled women walking down the streets, in the phone lines that spring to light after midnight, and in the heartbroken songs and poems, too numerous to count, written by the victims of love unsanctioned by family, by tradition, by the city: Riyadh.”

That might be due to the nature of the content, and even though the book is a work of fiction it is inspired by true events that Saudi women face whether it is marriage, divorce, finding the right guy, education or even trying to be independent.

Another important point to be mentioned is that the timeline is before smartphones and 3G become widely available, so the ways the girls would sneak out or meet boys in the mall is actually how it used to happen back then.

“In a word or two, life only goes Technicolor in the very moment love’s fingers caress it.”

I found all the characters fun to read, but I loved the character of Michelle a lot, she just seemed the type of chick who wouldn’t beg anyone to stay with her and makes do with her reality. She is a badass.

Other than her Sadeem could be assumed as the hopeless romantic who isn’t lucky when it comes to love but third times a charm and she finally meets her prince charming. Gumrah on the other hand, gets the worst end of the stick for sure.

And lastly, Lamees is that rare person who has the happy go lucky vibe with life and ends up with exactly what she aims for.

All in all, if you’re looking for an easy chick lit to curl up with in this cold weather with some hot chocolate, this is the one.

And if you’ve lived in KSA, then trust me you’ll love this book even more.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 4.0/5.0
  1. Favorite quote: “Apparently, all men were the same. It was like God had given them different faces just so that women would be able to tell them apart.”
  2. Reader level:  Fairly easy.
  3. Should you read: if you’re looking for an easy read to distress yourself.
  4. Would I read it again: it’s one of those books you just read once, although the poetry is quite nice, so I may look into that.

Till next time,


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