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Book of the Week: The Arrogant Years

October 6, 2011

Each week we’ll feature a book that we’re excited about . Often, as is the case this week, it will be a new book published within the last month or so. Other times we’ll feature an older under-the-radar pick that we feel deserves more attention than it got.

This week’s book of the week is The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn by Lucette Lagnado. A follow-up to the author’s previous memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, which told the story of her father, Leon, The Arrogant Years is the story of Lucette’s mother, Edith. Part of the book is about Edith’s youth and coming of age in Cairo, Egypt, and her subsequent marriage to Leon and immigration to the U.S. in the face of anti-Semitism in Egypt. The other part is the family’s early years and Lucette’s adolescence in the immigrant enclave of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Lucette’s and Edith’s stories intertwine to form a profoundly moving, beautifully written narrative of the family’s struggles.

Roxanne Coady, our founder and CEO, has been recommending The Arrogant Years to just about everyone who has asked her what to read lately. Roxanne’s endorsement:

“Lucette Lagnado is an exquisite storyteller. You’ll be transported to the glamorous Cairo of Edith’s childhood in the early 20th century, and the Brooklyn of Lucette’s own coming of age in the 1960s. It’s illuminating to read about Edith’s early years against the backdrop of Egyptian history and politics in the last century, especially in the context of all the attention that is focused on the Middle East today.

Reading about the family’s early years in Brooklyn, you’ll be moved by Lucette’s portrayal of the immigrant experience – going from being a person of note and privilege to being just one among the masses trying to make it in a foreign country. You’ll also likely recognize yourself somewhere in Lucette’s own coming of age tale. She writes beautifully of her ‘arrogant years’—those teenage years during which you believe you are invincible, and the subsequent rollercoaster ride of finding out whether that’s true or not.

And these are just a few of the many layers that compose this heartbreaking memoir. The Arrogant Years will stay with you long after you finish reading.”

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