Title: Cutting Loose
Author: Nadine Dajani
Release Date: September 20, 2008
Genre: Chick Lit, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Meet three women who are as different as could be—at least that’s what they think—and the men who’ve turned their lives upside down as their paths collide in sizzling, sexy Miami. . . .
Ranya is a modern-day princess—brought up behind the gilded walls of Saudi Arabian high society and winner of the dream husband sweepstakes…until said husband turns out to be more interested in Paolo, the interior-decorator-cum-underwear-model, than in his virginal new wife.
Smart, independent, but painfully shy, Zahra has managed to escape her impoverished Palestinian roots to carve out a life of comfort. But she can’t reveal her secrets to the man she adores or shake off the fear that she doesn’t deserve any of it. She also can’t shake the fear that if she holds on to anything—or anyone—too dearly, they will be taken away in the blink of a kohl-lined eye.
Rio has risen above the slums of her native Honduras—not to mention the jeers of her none too supportive family—to become editor in chief of Suéltate magazine, the hottest Latina-targeted glossy in town, and this in spite of Georges Mallouk, her hunky-yet-clueless boss, and in spite of Rio’s totally wrong but oh-so-sinfully-right affair with the boss’s delicious but despicable younger brother, Joe.
In this city of fast cars, sleek clubs, and unapologetic superficiality, Ranya, Zahra, and Rio wrestle with the ties that bind them to their difficult pasts, and it just might be time for them to cut loose.
I first heard about Nadine Dajani’s novels through the website of the wonderful Jess Riley, author of Driving Sideways [review]. She featured an interview about Ms. Dajani’s new novel, Cutting Loose, and I was immediately intrigued. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I love multicultural fiction, especially when that fiction can fit in the genre of chick lit. This book seemed to fit the bill, and I was thrilled when Ms. Dajani’s publicist sent me not just one, but both of her books to review!
I think the strongest point of Cutting Loose is its wonderful characters. When I first picked up the book, I figured that these three women, Ranya, Rio, and Zahra, would become friends and that’s what the novel would be about because that’s how most chick lit works. Imagine my surprise when these three didn’t become fast friends; instead, Zahra and Rio seemed to resent and severely dislike Ranya. I thought that added an extra ingredient to the novel and I really enjoyed it.
I liked the character of Ranya a lot, though Rio and Zahra didn’t. I might have actually found their immediate judgment of her irritating, had the book not also been told from their points of view. Sometimes a book with multiple narrators can be confusing, but in this case, the tool is very effective. It is easy to understand why each of these women act in the manner they do. Dajani is a talented writer who really understands the dynamics of female relationships.
I also loved that these women were from very different backgrounds. Yes, Ranya and Zahra were both from the Middle East, but basically from completely different worlds within that area. I like how Dajani makes clear that growing up rich in Saudi Arabia is not the same as growing up as a poor Palestinian; too often, the Middle East is painted as one homogenous area. It’s nice to be reminded that’s not the case. And Rio, being from Honduras, throws something entirely different into the mix.
Cutting Loose is well-written, fun, easy to read, and very interesting. If you enjoy chick lit, or books about different cultures, don’t miss this one! A big thank you to Ms. Dajani and her publicist for getting these books to me and making sure I received them!