The Girl Who Fell to Earth: A Memoir

The Girl Who Fell to Earth: A Memoir

Sophia Al-Maria

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 006199975X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Award-winning filmmaker and writer Sophia Al-Maria’s The Girl Who Fell to Earth is a funny and wry coming-of-age memoir about growing up in between American and Gulf Arab cultures. With poignancy and humor, Al-Maria shares the struggles of being raised by an American mother and Bedouin father while shuttling between homes in the Pacific Northwest and the Middle East. Part family saga and part personal quest, The Girl Who Fell to Earth traces Al-Maria’s journey to make a place for herself in two different worlds.












kept her copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune for her own amusement. We spent a lot of time at the pool in the early mornings, where Dima bobbed in water wings and Ma instructed me on how to dive with as little splash as possible into the pool. “Tuck your head in!” she’d call from her umbrella, where she watched me show off my headstands and push Dima around the little blue hole with her water wings and inner tube. At night Ma swiveled the telescope on its tripod and squinted out at the horizon. She

become obsessed with tracing the topography of her blue veins through her skin. Dima was spacing out in front of the living room window chewing a cocktail sausage. Ma’s recovery meant we’d been living off canned food, triangle cheese, and juice boxes for weeks. Ma had packed the suitcase with our few possessions that had not been gifts from Baba. Depending on his movements this morning she would make an executive decision about our future as a family unit. By the time we left the apartment, the

stencil at me. “Go ahead. Just think of a problem,” she coaxed. “And answer it.” Then she swiveled back to her black DOS screen. I looked down at the disordered chaos I had been scribbling, the beginnings of a house with trapezoid windows. The only problem I could think of to fix was our family. So I began plotting out my lineage, taping two pieces of computer paper to the kitchen wall beside each other. Starting with two end points—triangles representing Dima and me—I worked up. The problem

worst sight of all was the house, or, more specifically, the place where it had once been, now an open patch in the fields like a gashed-in crop circle of rubble. None of us had anticipated that the new owner would knock our home down. I picked my way up to the open basement foundation, a big hole where the house should be. The uneven ground on the bottom was covered with mangled black plastic and held down with rocks. All the remains of the house had already been taken away, so it felt as if

down and had collapsed into the pool. Their ash filled the water that had collected there, the charred-black trunks flaking away. That night around the fire the ladies got to talking. Someone had picked up a radio show from Saudi briefly on her portable radio. It was a call-in show during which you could anonymously ask a venerable Muslim scholar about your deepest concerns. As soon as we’d quieted down, a woman’s voice came on and asked the cleric a very deep question indeed. “What should I do

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