Recommendations Staff Book Reviews Virtual Book Club

Bride of the Sea

by Public Service Associate Nichole

During a snowy Cleveland February, newlywed university students Muneer and Saeedah are expecting their first child, and he is harboring a secret: the word divorce is whispering in his ear. Soon, their marriage will end, and Muneer will return to Saudi Arabia, while Saeedah remains in Cleveland with their daughter, Hanadi. Consumed by a growing fear of losing her daughter, Saeedah disappears with the little girl, leaving Muneer to desperately search for his daughter for years. The repercussions of the abduction ripple outward, not only changing the lives of Hanadi and her parents, but also their interwoven family and friends—those who must choose sides and hide their own deeply guarded secrets.

And when Hanadi comes of age, she finds herself at the center of this conflict, torn between the world she grew up in and a family across the ocean. How can she exist between parents, between countries?

I’ll be completely honest… I only picked up this book because of how much I loved the cover art. After reading Bride of the Sea, I can’t begin to express how much I loved this book! With each turn of the page, I was pulled deeper into the complicated lives of Muneer, Saeedah, and their daughter Hanadi. Each character was flawed in their own way but they also had redeeming qualities that kept you from disliking them. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how much Quotah made me empathize with every single character… no matter if what the character did was wrong, I was put in this position to understand their actions and not outwardly criticize them. Bride of the Sea is a complicated story full of messy characters and when it ends, you might be left hoping for some resolution – maybe a happy ending, but life isn’t that way. I feel like Quotah gave us a raw look at a family dynamic, that while it might be different from our own, there are a lot of the same elements. I recommend this book for those who enjoyed Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. If you enjoy compellingly written coming-of-age stories with flawed characters, check out Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah – you won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to register for our virtual discussion, Exploring Identity, Place, and Belonging with Authors Eman Quotah and Donna Hemans on Wednesday, August 25 at 7:30pm! Authors Eman Quotah (Bride of the Sea, 2021 | print / digital) and Donna Hemans (Tea by the Sea, 2020 | print) will discuss their latest works, which both consider questions about complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, how identity is tied to place, and where we find belonging. Q&A will follow the discussion. This program is brought to you in partnership with Gramercy Books.