Saudi Arabia: Book Review – The Ruins of Us


American Bedu recently finished reading the book ‘The Ruins of Us’ written by Keija Parsinnen.   The Ruins of Us is the story of Rosalie and Abdullah.  Rosalie is an American who was born to expatriate parents in Saudi Arabia.  She lived in Saudi Arabia until she was twelve years old and those years in the Kingdom made a significant impact on her as she grew into womanhood.  Rosalie met Abdullah, a Saudi student, when they were both students in Texas.  After Abdullah finished University the couple returned together to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province where they made their life together.  Over the years they had two children, Faisal and Mariam.

Rosalie had a filled life in Saudi Arabia with her husband, children and many friends.  She learned the language, the customs and cultures.  She transformed from the gregarious American into a refined and cultured Saudi wife.  But…did she become too Saudi for Abdullah?

Abdullah is a successful businessman who expanded the company his father started.  He routinely wined and dined with Saudi’s elite.  No challenge was too much or too big for him.  His business activities had him keep long hours and often times trips away from home outside of the Kingdom.

During one trip away, Abdullah meets Isra, a strong Arab woman of Palestinian heritage.  He is captivated by Isra and exercises the right of his religion to take another wife.  However he fears Rosalie’s reaction and withholds the news from her.  Rosalie discovers the existence of Isra while shopping at the family’s jeweler who inadvertently asked Rosalie how she liked the anniversary pendant her husband had purchased.

As Rosalie has to now contend with sharing her husband with another woman, the family is plummeted into a dark period.  Rosalie rejects her husband and no longer wishes to share a bed with him.  Her children lose themselves in their own pursuits – young Mariam creates a blog and Faisal finds solace and belonging under the tutelage of a controversial Sheik.

Rosalie is at a loss on what to do.  She wants to leave her husband but not at the expense of her children.  However before she can solidify a decision or make plans for her future, a crisis arises which brings this broken family back together.

The Ruins of Us captures the full quagmire of emotions of a Saudi wife who discovers that her Saudi husband has taken a second wife.  The book takes one into the mind of the Saudi husband and his justification for taking a second wife.  Readers will feel Rosalie’s pain as she explores her options as an American woman who feels betrayed by the actions of her Saudi husband.  The book further captures the mixed emotions of family and friends as they also deal with the consequences of a marriage that has now become polygamous.

Author Keija Parssinen is an “Aramco brat” who grew up in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.  She is a provocative and sensitive writer.  The Ruins of Us is her first novel.  You can learn more about Keija and purchase your own copy of The Ruins of Us at her website,  The Ruins of Us is an American Bedu recommended read.


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