A Year Under Sharia Law

Memoir of an American Couple Living and Working in Saudi Arabia

Non-Fiction - Memoir
191 Pages
Reviewed on 06/23/2019
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Author Biography

Alex and Liz Fletcher have lived and worked in Africa, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, and they now reside in Michigan. Alex currently teaches English at the college level and has a MA degree in English Education. Liz went back to school, and she now works in the medical field. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking and camping in national parks with their two kids and golden retriever.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

A Year Under Sharia Law: Memoir of an American Couple Living and Working in Saudi Arabia by Alex and Elizabeth Fletcher is a memoir that documents the life of a couple as they navigate the challenging, somewhat dangerous landscape of Saudi Arabia under Sharia law. Alex studied and graduated with majors in marketing and English, and after working for an online casino, nothing could get better. Employment in Michigan was soaring and depression, the kind that can’t be cured by therapy or medication, got a strong hold on Alex. They needed to pay off their student loans and their home, and the only thing to do was what many would consider a crazy idea — go to Saudi Arabia to teach English.

In this memoir, the authors offer telling revelations of the nature of Sharia law, about a society torn between the idiosyncrasies of religious practices and the exigencies of contemporary technological advancement. The reader is introduced to the day-to-day life of the authors, their experience of culture shock as they witness blatant human rights abuses that go unchecked and a lot more. They learn about the abuses that foreigners, especially women who come into the country, suffer under their employers who take their passports and make them work as nannies, often experiencing unspeakable crimes. From the preface, the reader understands that “While the church and state in Saudi have been intertwined for many centuries, the unique culture of the country has added its own idiosyncrasies.” Alex and Elizabeth Fletcher open the eyes of readers to these idiosyncrasies. A Year Under Sharia Law: Memoir of an American Couple Living and Working in Saudi Arabia is a powerful memoir with strong cultural commentaries, the story of a decision that came with huge consequences.

Mark Thornton

Having graduated just before the 2008 economic crisis, the first chapter spoke to me on a personal level. Choices for well paying jobs were at a premium and I can empathize with the author's desperation to stand on his own two feet but his choice of country to work in was a bit unconventional. The author gave fascinating insights into Sharia Law and Saudi culture but the theme of the book focused on their everyday life, navigating idiosyncratic situations. The novel was punchy and fast paced with a conclusion that revealed the dark underbelly of Saudi.