Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Straight Reading from the Library - The Girl of the Book by Princila Murrell

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Princila will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Twelve year old Courtney Parker is devastated to have to leave her friends and South Africa behind when her father accepts a lucrative contract and the family relocate to Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah feels like a different planet to Johannesburg. In spite of her initial reluctance to venture out of the comfort and security of their new home, she quickly forms friendships with Nizar Bukhari and Lana Alahmadi. However, not everyone is happy with the situation.

Courtney must learn to adapt to an alien, seemingly unforgiving culture and stand up to the bullies that are making her school life hell.

Nizar and Lana must both try to overcome their family prejudices in order for their friendship with Courtney to survive. Will they succeed? Will they be able to set aside their differences? Can they bridge the cultural divide?

"Girl of the Book" is a compelling, contemporary story that will get older children thinking. More than that, it is a story of friendship and forgiveness that will tug at your heart.


Kids don't have much say in the matter when job transfers force families to move and leave friends behind, and it's never easy to go through.  It's even worse, however, for Courtney though, because at 12 years of age, she not only is leaving her friends--but her country and even her culture.

This is the story of what she goes through as she tries to adjust to living in an a Muslim country-- the difficulties with the language, the dress, the traditions.  She had a lot of freedom in her home of South Africa-- going to the beach, wearing shorts, friendships with boys-- that are strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia.  

The adjustments are not only on her side, though, but also on two friends she does make-- Lana and Nizar.  There are misunderstandings, problems with parents, problems at school. 

I think kids 12 and up will like this book and will be able to identify with Courtney as well as the issues she is facing. Even as an adult, the story caught my attention and I wanted to see what happened with Courtney as she faced her problems.

One of the best things about this book is it serves as a stepping stone for kids and their parents to talk about differences and similarities between cultures.  I don't know if the author has a second book planned for Courtney, but it would be interesting to see how her second year in Saudi Arabia goes.

4 stars.

The class was quiet when she left. I noticed the girls were glancing at me and whenever their eyes met mine, they shifted their gaze.

One of them, a wide-eyed girl, finally spoke. ‘Where are you from?’

‘Are you American?’ another girl asked before I had time to answer.

‘No, I’m from South Africa,’ I replied, trying not to sound bothered by their curious looks.

‘No way!’ one of the girls to my right exclaimed. She had a brown abaya decorated with sequins on the front, and a matching scarf hung around her neck. Her skin was fair, just like mine. Her hair was a pale brown, and it hung in beautiful curls that seemed to spring whenever she moved her head. ‘You can’t be African. You’re white...’

‘You’re also white,’ I remarked.

I was referring to her alone because her skin was lighter than those of the other girls. But she probably misunderstood me because she said, ‘We’re not white. We’re brown.’ She pulled the sleeve of her abaya up her arm and stroked her skin, as if to emphasise her point. ‘Arabs are brown. Africans are black and you’re not. So where are you from?’

‘I’m from South Africa. There are white and black people in South Africa if you didn’t know,’ I said, a little angry.

‘Fine, fine. So are you Muslim?’ the girl in the brown abaya said.


They gasped as if I had said an abomination.

‘You’re not?’ One girl spoke for the first time. She had long straight hair, and her skin was a little darker than those of the other girls. ‘You don’t pray?’

‘What do you mean by I ‘don’t pray’?’ I asked. ‘I pray every day before meals and when I go to bed.’

‘No, not that kind of prayer,’ the wide-eyed girl said. ‘We mean salat.’

‘Salat? What’s that?’ I asked.

‘Prayer, stupido.’ The girl in the brown abaya rolled her eyes.

‘Now, look...’ I was about to say when Ms Lopez walked into the classroom. I glared at the girl in the brown abaya. Whatever her name was, I hoped we weren’t going to be in the same class.


Princila Murrell lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband and two kids. She startedwriting when she was about 10 years old and made the leap to Indie author about two decades later because she could not wait to share her stories with the world. Besides being a nerdy dreamer, doodler, busy mum, and housewife, she is also an avid netizen and reader of children’s books. She loves to cook, shop and, most of all, play with her kids. Girl of the Book is Princila’s debut novel.

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Buy Link
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  1. Hi! Thanks for having me today, Judith.

  2. Enjoyed reading the excerpt, thank you!

  3. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  4. Love the excerpt, sounds really good. Entering under the name of Virginia

  5. I really liked the excerpt! Thanks for sharing, I'm looking forward to checking this out :)

  6. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. Thanks!