The girls of Riyadh are much like girls anywhere else in the world. They go to school, shop, wear makeup and designer clothes, and spend a lot of time talking and thinking about boys. The difference is, these girls can’t drive a car, vote, or even go out of the house alone. Originally published in Arabic in 2005, The Girls of Riyadh was immediately banned in Saudi Arabia (although black market copies were around and it is now apparently legally available). In 2007 it became available in English. It follows the story of four girlfriends from Riyadh named Sadeem, Michelle, Gamrah and Lamees. The book follows each girl by way of emails which are sent each Friday to members of an online list-serv by the unnamed narrator. The details of the oppressive culture are interesting, especially the marriage traditions, though the writing is somewhat pedestrian and even overwrought in places, such as when Sadeem and Firas reunite after his engagement to a more “suitable” woman. “The two lovers lost the last of their reservations … now fate, with the tender love of a father who cannot bear to see his children in torment, gripped their hands and led each to the other.” The author, Rajaa Alsanea is herself a 20-something girl from Riyadh now studying endodontics in Chicago. Recommended.