Set primarily in glitzy Miami, this book tells the stories of three different women at a crossroads in life.
- Ranya is a stunningly beautiful but sheltered daughter of wealthy Lebanese parents. She has lived a pampered existence and recently won the “marriage sweepstakes” — until she finds out her new husband seems to prefer their interior decorator Paolo. Fleeing her sham marriage and protective family in Montreal, she travels first to London where she meets Georges Mallouk — a handsome, kind millionaire who is quite taken with her. She eventually ends up in Miami, where she seeks out Georges’ help in starting a new life.
- Zahra is Georges’s intelligent, competent right-hand woman and CFO of his company. Her Palestinian roots run deep — as do her insecurities about her appearance. She knew Ranya when they were in school years ago. Although Zahra recognizes Ranya instantly upon running into her, Ranya barely remembers her. Zahra is half in love with Georges — and still wishing that the night they shared years ago will return and Georges will realize Zahra is the right woman for him. But waiting is getting her nowhere — especially when Georges seems to have fallen for Ranya.
- Rio is the tough-talking, ambitious editor of Sueltate magazine — an up and coming Latina magazine that is Rio’s pride and job. Rio is proud of how she’s escaped the poverty of her native Honduras — even though her parents don’t seem to appreciate her success as much as she wished. Her affair with Georges’s younger playboy brother Joe is not always the best thing for her — but Rio can’t seem to just say no. After all, she can’t let anything jeopardize her position at the magazine. But with the Mallouk brothers questioning whether the magazine truly benefits their company, Rio’s hard work may be for naught.
Circumstances bring these three women together in Miami, but what transpires between them is not quite what you might expect. Each woman learns important lessons about themselves and their past and realize that to move forward, you sometimes need to “cut loose.”
What I liked most about this book was seeing the three women go from being their own worst enemies to learning how to trust and believe in themselves. When we meet them, each lets herself be defined by a man, family expectations, and her own need to “fit in” to the world where she chose to live. Yet each is fundamentally unhappy. Over the course of the book, each woman learns that letting others define you leads to an unfufilling life. Only when they learn to “cut loose,” do they begin to find true happiness and success.
It was interesting to have three strong female characters from different cultural backgrounds that you don’t often see represented in mainstream fiction. Yet the author does a good job of making each woman “universal.” They all worry about their appearance, anguish over the “wrong guy,” and try to please their parents. One aspect of the book that I thought was “right on” was how each woman struggled with similar issues but their fears and insecurities keep them from opening themselves up to each other. For example, Zahra is intimidated by Ranya’s beauty, and Ranya is awed by Zahra’s intelligence. Therefore, they never allow themselves to become friends. Unfortunately, I think this is quite accurate in female relationships. We often feel jealous of what we think we don’t have so we keep our distance from the women that could probably help and empathize with us the most.
The book has a very modern, up-to-the-minute feel. There are lots of references to celebrities, fashion and cultural touchstones that squarely place the book in the modern era. I think the author does a good job of capturing the voice of each character; each chapter switches from one woman to the other and is written in the first person. This lends a kind of intimacy to each woman’s interior thoughts, and I think it works better than if the author had chosen to write the book in the third person.
About the Author
From the Publicist: Born in Lebanon to Palestinian parents, Nadine Dajani spend the first nine years of her life in Saudi Arabia before settling in Montreal. It is safe to say, Nadine has the wandering gene. As an adult, she moved to the Cayman Islands, where she enjoyed island-hopping to nearby Cuba and Miami whenever the travel bug bit. Nadine’s articles have been published in Atomsphere magazine. This is her second novel; her first was Fashionably Late.
From Me: I’ve been so impressed with Nadine Dajani and her thoughtfulness and accessibility. She personally e-mailed me and asked if I would be interested in receiving a review copy of Cutting Loose and doing a giveaway. She followed up to make sure I had received the copies. Then I was surprised to receive a handwritten thank you note in the mail (all the way from the exotic Cayman Islands) from her (see photo below).
How lovely is that? So thank you Nadine. You made this humble book blogger feel very special. I wish you the best of success with your writing, and I’m excited to see what you come up with for next book.
For more information on Nadine Dajani, you can visit her web site, which includes her thoughts on writing and her blog. I’ve visited a few times, and it is like hanging out with a fun and talented girlfriend. Drop by and say “hi.”
My Final Thoughts
This book is a fun but thoughtful book that has some important messages (clothed in the latest designer duds!) about how women can lose a part of themselves when they let men, family or career define them. The book isn’t preachy nor does it follow many of the conventions of “chick lit,” which I’m thinking it is the genre that it will be “lumped into.” I also think the book will be of particular interest to women whose cultural backgrounds are reflected in the three women.
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