by R. Santamaria
Category: Fiction / Literary
307 pages; ISBN: 1-4140-3291-9
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Jeannine Van Eperen
lst Books Library
ISBN: 1-4140-3291-9 Paperback
ISBN: 1-4140-3290-0 eBook
People flocked to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s for high-paying jobs. Most did this so that they could finance an education, a home, pay off debts and so forth. By doing so they are helping the country advance, they hope, for the better. Expatriate Games depicts those who work in the Royal Hospital. Clare, an administrative nurse, is spending her large income to build her dream home outside of Atlanta. Jill needs to pay off the second mortgage on her mother’s house. Shawnee needs money to get a law degree. All expect this new land and surroundings to put some excitement in their lives but none could imagine the tyranny they would witness, the repression of women, nor could they imagine what they would do to assure they would later live the good life in the U.S.A., Philippines, Great Britain or India. One man among them, Eric, is arrested and beaten after he gallantly goes to the aid of a woman who fell. A man cannot touch a woman even to help her from injury. Eric quickly leaves the country but the women stay to earn money for their dreams. Can the people at the Royal Hospital prevent a fourteen-year-old mother from being stoned to death? Do morals fall by the wayside in a restrictive foreign environment? And what are they willing to do to right a wrong?
I found the subject matter of Expatriate Games totally mesmerizing. I think most Americans have a hazy conception of how intimidating life can be in a land where a person is not free to say or do as he or she pleases. This jewel of a book is a real eye-opener. I had no idea what kind of a game I was about to read when I opened the book’s covers. Could it be soccer? Polo? Jai alai? No, it is a game of intrigue and the stakes are high, a matter of life of death. R. Santamaria is to be commended for writing this honest look at life in Saudi Arabia and how it affects newcomers who arrive with high hopes and then need to cope with a land and people very different from themselves.
Jeannine Van Eperen, Reviewer
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