Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 352
Released: 2012
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5


American-born Rosalie fell in love with her husband during college; they were inseparable and full of dreams. Abdullah defied his parents when he announced they would marry, knowing they would eventually settle-down and accept her. Abdullah gave Rosalie everything she wished for, including life in Saudi Arabia; a country she has been fascinated with since she was a child. Twenty-five years into the marriage and two children later, Rosalie discovers she is not the only wife. For two years, Abdullah has taken a second wife, and she was oblivious. She honestly believed he was travelling on business, and had no reason to doubt him. She was clueless until a local jeweler made the mistake of asking her about a piece of jewelry she knew Abdullah would never buy her. When she confronts Abdullah, he confesses and explains that he has no plans to live without either wife. He plans to love and provide for both wives. Abdullah has always prided himself on being progressive, and Rosalie is shocked that he would do this to her. Rosalie struggles to keep her family safe, knowing she would never be able to leave the country with her children. Faisal is sixteen and becoming more and more of an extremist in terms of his religion. Their daughter Marium is constantly pushing the boundaries and they need to keep her in check. Rosalie struggles with heartbreak, confusion and bitterness. She has no idea where to go or what to do. Her children remain her priority.


I loved, loved, loved this one! A stunning debut that had me hooked immediately. The emotions of each character were incredibly written. Rosalie was heartbroken and shocked, but she knew her husband’s actions were legal. She struggled with what to do next. Does she leave him? She’ll never gain custody of her children. Their life is in Saudi Arabia. Does she accept the second marriage and go forward? She still loved her husband but didn’t understand how he could do this to her. Abdullah understood her hurt, was conflicted with that fact that he caused the hurt, but he still loved her. He still wanted to be married to her. Overtime, Rosalie became a “Saudi” wife and her “Texas” personality has long been gone. She was no longer the woman he married and fell in love with.

Parssinen is an incredible writer, and I’m really glad I decided to read this one. Rosalie and Abdullah’s relationship captured me in from the beginning. I didn’t like one character over the other, which really surprised me. I expected to be on Rosalie’s side and hate Abdullah but Parssinen portrayed both characters beautifully. I was shocked that I was actually rooting for Abdullah. I wanted their love to remain intact. I wanted it somehow to work out. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how I felt toward Abdullah.

I highly recommend this one. It will no doubt be placed on my list of favorites for 2012. The descriptions were vivid and stunning. At this point, I will state it was my favorite debut so far this year. Parsinnen is without a doubt an extraordinary writer!


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    I guess you liked this one then!!!

    Great review, your enthusiasm is contagious. This is not the sort of synopsis that would grab me, if I was browsing in a bookshop, however your review has really piqued my interest and I have added this one to my list.

    I am hoping that as the author has also got first-hand knowledge of Saudi, then the descriptions are going to be fantastic too.

    Thanks for the recommendation,


  2. I can feel your enthusiasm for this one. And I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I don't know that I could get past him taking a second wife behind the other wife's back and expecting her to understand and be okay with it. But it seems the author writes this situation and the characters in a way that keep the reader conflicted and wanting the best fir all parties involved. What about the second wife? Does she know about the first? Anywho, great review, glad you liked it!

    1. The second wife does know about the first wife. I was surprise to feel so conflicted about his choices.

  3. I read this one awhile back. I liked it but I had a really hard time with the motives of the various characters. Some of the things they do just seem really, really random.

  4. This sounds so interesting. Great review! Although, i think I'd kill my hubby if he took a second wife...LOL

  5. Sandra, my review partner, read this one and liked it too. The author must be really talented to have you rooting for the husband who takes on the second wife.

  6. I loved this one as well, and thought that it raised some interesting questions about marriage and responsibility. I also really liked the subplot that dealt with Rosalie's son. A very worthy book indeed, and I am glad that you liked it!

  7. This sounds fantastic - and also a bit like Silver Sparrow. Can you imagine finding that out about your husband?!!!!

  8. Oh wow. This sounds so good. I can't imagine. And to be faced with such options. Great review.

  9. I love the premise of this one and the fact that you enjoyed it so much makes me even more excited about it!

  10. I just love it when you love a book because I can always feel the difference in your reviews from ones like this one and ones that you only felt neutral towards! x) I read through the words "incredible" and "stunning" and "favourite" and wondered why I haven't heard a thing about this book before!

    Awesome review, Mrs. Q! Glad to know that this one surpassed your expectations :) <3

  11. It says a lot when an author can make you root for the "bad" guy.

  12. Wow, you've made me wish I had this one to pull of my shelf right this very moment. It sounds like a great story that is very well written.

  13. I was really bothered with some aspects of this book when I read it, but I'll admit it has stuck with me over time which a lot of books don't. I can't believe you felt for Abdullah, though.. I could not STAND him, LOL!!

  14. This one sounds pretty good! I'm adding it to my TBR. Thanks for the review.