Reading a memoir is like looking through a window into someone's life. If you're lucky the window is clean, the curtains pulled back just enough, and the life inside revealed in such a way that the reader learns something important and moving about that life. Good memoirs go a step beyond and reveal truths and realities about entire realms, and those truths and realities change forever how the reader views the world. This is one of those good memoirs. — From Dana
A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.
Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties she was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound that resembled suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her teenage brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel.
Daring to Drive is the fiercely intimate memoir of an accidental activist, a powerfully vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Writing on the cusp of history, Manal offers a rare glimpse into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia today. Her memoir is a remarkable celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny, the extraordinary power of education and female solidarity, and the difficulties, absurdities, and joys of making your voice heard.
About the Author
Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who was imprisoned in 2011 for driving a car. She has been lauded by Foreign Policy, Time, Forbes, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. Daring to Drive is her first book.
“A vital, inspiring book.”
“A brave, extraordinary, heartbreakingly personal story of one woman’s battle for equal rights.... The book provides a rare glimpse into... the hearts and minds of people who live in a society that is mostly off-limits to Westerners. [Al-Sharif's] literary achievement is that despite the huge cultural differences, Daring to Drive shows that Saudi women and men have dreams and fears much like our own.”
“Future generations will marvel at Manal al-Sharif, whose voice is laden with quiet dignity even at its most urgent. Her gripping account of homegrown courage will speak to the fighter in all of us.” — Deborah Feldman, New York Times bestselling author of Unorthodox
“An astonishing, humble, truthful book, more illuminating than a hundred newspaper stories on Saudi Arabia. Manal is no Chanel-draped, chauffeur-driven Saudi princess. Her account of why a single working mother’s life compelled her to confront the kingdom’s fiercely patriarchal ways is touching and revealing in equal measure.” — Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad
“Al-Sharif’s back story... should shock you even if you think you already have a pretty good handle on conditions for women in Saudi Arabia.” — Meghan Daum
“Eye-opening... [and] compelling.”
“A captivating read. Manal al-Sharif refuses to hide her scars, unveiling what she endured and sacrificed to become a professional who has fearlessly pushed the boundaries of tradition.” — Elena Gorokhova, author of Russian Tattoo
“There are vignettes of laughter and love... [and] glimpses of rich, vibrant Arab life....A testament to how women in Muslim countries are helping change their culture, one step at a time.”
“Fascinating, powerful, and heartbreaking... a truly eye-opening read.”
“Remarkable. Manal al-Sharif invites us to ride with her to bend the arc of history towards equality and justice.” — Rula Jebreal, international bestselling author of Miral
“If you’re searching for an inspiring memoir, Daring to Drive should be on your must-read list.”
“For readers who are unaware of the dirty side of Saudi society, Daring to Drive is an eye-opening account of everything the world has missed.”
“Sure to be a summer best-seller.... A great and empowering story.”
"We can all learn from al-Sharif’s courage and strength; I hope we are the ones who can awaken."
“Al-Sharif’s transformation from religious radical to feminist champion is incredibly inspiring.”
“Daring to Drive is an important book.... Al-Sharif tells her story in clear, readable prose... [and] provides readers with unusual insight into what it means to be a woman under Wahhabi.”
“An intimate look at life for women growing up in Saudi Arabia and the challenges of seeking major social change.”
“If you consider yourself interested in women’s rights or the cultures of other lands, Daring to Drive should be a mandatory addition to your reading list.”
“An intimate and powerful book from what is hopefully only the first of many Saudi voices to speak out.”