Book Review: The Woman Who Fell From The Sky – Jennifer Steil [TSS]

Title: The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen
Author: Jennifer Steil
ISBN: 9780767930505
Pages: 336
Release Date: May 11, 2010
Publisher: Broadway
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Jennifer Steil, a journalist and editor, accepted a short-term position at an English-language newspaper in the small Muslim country of Yemen, trying to teach reporters how to write effective articles (and in many cases, write properly in English!)  Despite the fact that living in a foreign, conservative place is such a shock, Jennifer finds she falls in love with the charming country.

Review:

The Woman Who Fell From The Sky is an exceptional memoir about the life of an American expatriate.  Jennifer Steil is a talented writer.  Her prose is crisp, precise, and very easy to read.  She also presents herself very well in this memoir.  She is appealing and likeable, but is honest about her flaws and the mistakes she makes.  I really enjoyed her voice and could almost hear her telling the story in my imagination.  This is one book that would have worked very well in audio, and I may try that in a re-read.

I absolutely loved reading about Steil’s adventures in Yemen.  Everything was alien, from the way she was required to dress to the assumptions men automatically about her because she was from the United States.  The culture shock was enormous, yet she dealt with it gracefully.  She confides in the reader about how lonely and frustrated she was at times, yet she still manages to see the beauty in Yemeni culture. 

Steil’s descriptions in The Woman Who Fell From The Sky are very vivid.  She really makes the reader feel like they are in this country.  She describes the customs and nuances of the culture, so that readers learn a lot while reading this book.  At the same time, though, she relates these nuggets through personal stories, such that the reader never feels like Steil is trying to teach them something – she’s just describing life in Sana’a. 

I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book.  There’s not a dry spot in it, which is extremely rare for non-fiction.  Additionally, I loved how Steil highlighted political and social issues in Yemen, especially the plight of women.  It was also encouraging to watch her fight for her newspaper’s right to free speech in a country that does not necessarily recognize that right.  This book gave me a lot to think about while exposing me to an entirely new culture.

The Woman Who Fell From The Sky was an enjoyable memoir that will definitely be at the top of my recommendation list.  I loved Steil’s descriptions, her honesty, her wit, and her resilience as she faced one stumbling block after another.  This is one of those books that has something for everyone.

Comments

  1. I have been drawn to this book ever since I saw that pomegranate on the cover, so I’m glad to see it’s so good.

  2. I have been drawn to this book ever since I saw that pomegranate on the cover, so I’m glad to see it’s so good.

  3. My sister lived in Yemen for a year, back in 2006, so this is one I’m really looking forward to reading. I love hearing stories from there and the other places she’s lived and been to in the Middle East.

  4. My sister lived in Yemen for a year, back in 2006, so this is one I’m really looking forward to reading. I love hearing stories from there and the other places she’s lived and been to in the Middle East.

  5. Sounds like a winner and I too love the pomegranate cover.

  6. Sounds like a winner and I too love the pomegranate cover.

  7. I loved this one, too, although I did get a couple of angry comments from someone who was outraged that Steil’s getting all this press despite the fact that she “wrecked” a marriage.

  8. I loved this one, too, although I did get a couple of angry comments from someone who was outraged that Steil’s getting all this press despite the fact that she “wrecked” a marriage.

  9. This sounds so interesting. I’ll definitely have to give it a try as I’m trying to read more nonfiction this year but I’m doing badly so far 🙂 Great review!

  10. This sounds so interesting. I’ll definitely have to give it a try as I’m trying to read more nonfiction this year but I’m doing badly so far 🙂 Great review!

  11. I haven’t read much about Yemen, and the subject, coupled with the fact that the book is so well written really draws me in. Glad you liked this one so much! I will be adding it to my wish list!!

  12. I haven’t read much about Yemen, and the subject, coupled with the fact that the book is so well written really draws me in. Glad you liked this one so much! I will be adding it to my wish list!!

  13. I’m always looking for a well crafted memoir and books that show me something I don’t know much about. Sounds like this satisfies both. Great review.

  14. I’m always looking for a well crafted memoir and books that show me something I don’t know much about. Sounds like this satisfies both. Great review.

  15. i love when books branch off into truly enjoyable territory.

    this sounds fantastic. i am not much of a memoir fan, but may still give this a go.

  16. i love when books branch off into truly enjoyable territory.

    this sounds fantastic. i am not much of a memoir fan, but may still give this a go.

  17. I am really falling in love with the memoir lately and I’m trying to read more of them. This one sounds so interesting and well written. Definitely adding it to my TBR list!

  18. I am really falling in love with the memoir lately and I’m trying to read more of them. This one sounds so interesting and well written. Definitely adding it to my TBR list!

  19. This sounds good. I’ll have to purchase it this weekend.
    Great review.

  20. This sounds good. I’ll have to purchase it this weekend.
    Great review.

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