Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen

Growing up in an expatriate family in Saudi Arabia afflicts the main character Rosalie in many ways. She isn't able to find her place when returning to America, and for many years she dreams about the land of the dunes. When, many years later, she meets Abdullah, a Saudi sheik, and moves back to the Kingdom to start a family, she can finally breathe. Furthermore, being the wife of one of the richest men in the world has its advantages and there is nothing missing in her life. However, many years later, Abdullah marries a second wife, and Rosalie wonders how well she really knows her husband and where her real home is.

The book contains many interesting topics, and religion and culture make up a great deal of the story, hidden in causes and reflections, especially regarding the son, Faisal, and his identity struggle that escalates until it involves the whole family. The daughter, Mariam, is a fascinating and inspiring character that deserves much more space.

An important theme is the view of right and wrong, something that is influenced and decided by surrounding elements. Another recurring topic is prejudices, and their lack of meaning, between nations. Somehow, the book would be richer if not fulfilling some of them, though. The writing is colorful but inconsistent and repetitive. The story could have been so much more. Parssinen gets carried away and the outcome is weaker than the beginning. 

Parssinen, born in Saudi Arabia and growing up in an expatriate family, shares many similarities with the main character, Rosalie, but never moved back to Saudi Arabia as an adult. She, as well as Rosalie, longed for the Kingdom and writing about it was her way of copying with it.

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