Book Review – The Green Bicycle by Haifaa al Mansour

On my recent trip to Bahrain, I needed some reading material to While Away my time. And having no particular book or author on my mind, I merrily stumbled upon this book at a local Bahraini bookstore.
Having finished reading a novel before I left for Bahrain, one that was dragging on and didn’t seem to end, The Green Bicycle had proved the total opposite.

Author Haaifa al Mansour had made history by becoming the 1st female Saudi Arabian to make a Feature full-length movie before deciding to do a book as well. The Movie, Wadgda, Has won the Best International Feature Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival….

The Green Bicycle, is based in modern day Saudi Arabia, and is written with protagonist, Wadgda, taking on the majority of the story. 11 year old Wadgda, is a spunky and determined character. Trying to rebel against the norms against women of Saudi Arabia, we see Wadgda try to do things a little differently. From wearing two toned chucks with purple shoe laces under her school uniform, to selling mixed tapes, snacks and bracelets to girls at her all girls school. It is during one of her strolls back home, by foot, that she instantly falls in love with a shiny green bicycle, that a toy store store owner has just put onto display.

Wadgda dreams of one day racing her young friend Abdullah, who is allowed to ride a bicycle because he’s male. Women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to drive or even ride a bicycle, but here Wadgda, is all set to prove that she too can ride a bicycle. To get this bicycle, Wadgda begins selling all her ‘forbidden’ goodies at a much higher price, so she can reach her target.

Alongside Wadgda, her mother is also fighting her own battle. We see that since it is modern day Riyadh, her mum is allowed to go work as a teacher. Having her own issues with her driver, Iqbal, who uses an old run down vehicle to transport the females to far away schools. Wadgda’s mother also cannot have anymore children, and has to accept that her in-laws are seeking out another woman for her husband to marry, so he can have a male offspring to carry his family name.

After Wadgda is caught out at school, she has to make a drastic change in her behavior and chooses to participate in the school Quran recital competition, which has huge monetary value as a prize.

By the end of the story, we get to see a little bit of rebellion from Wadgda’s mother as well. Something that leaves us wondering whether all women in Saudi Arabia will eventually rebel or go on living the lives they are expected too.

The Green Bicycle by Haaifa al Mansour
The Green Bicycle by Haaifa al Mansour

The Green Bicycle is an inspiring and sweet read, and little bit heartbreaking all at once. I would recommend this read to young and old, the simple language and easy to understand flow of the writing skills of the author, made for this novel to be a perfect holiday relaxation read.
After reading this novel, I so want to get the movie now. Hats off to author Haaifa al Mansour on an incredible debut novel.
The Green Bicycle gets a must read recommendation from me, with a Foodeva Marsay rating of

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️☆ (4 Stars)

While we all dream of our tiny life goals, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, more a PRAYER, from the book…

” GOD, INSPIRE ME, MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR ME, AND UNTIE MY TONGUE SO I MAY SPEAK FLUENTLY” – a prayer Wadgda’s mother asks her to remember on the morning of her Quran Recital Competition. (~The Green Bicycle by Haaifa al Mansour~)



Have you read this novel?

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