The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, From Cairo to Brooklyn

Tulsa Book Review
Aron Row
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

 

By Lucette Lagnado
Ecco, $25.99, 352 pages

Recalling her youthful transition from affluent life in Cairo to penurious residence in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn, New York, reporter Lucette Lagnado dramatically renders the cultural differences between the two civilizations. Driven from the formerly safe Egyptian haven by the revolts in Egypt and the Israeli presence, formerly secure Jewish citizens were forced to join the diaspora.

The author vividly describes the clash of values and recaptures the intimate bonds forged between mothers and daughters as they struggle to find their place in the world. Not only is this a compelling story of a rebellious, free-spirited girl who gains understanding through her arrogant youthful years, but a moving memoir recording the power of maternal-daughter bonding through the generations. The author’s mother, a brilliant scholar, holds as her talisman her youthful memory of once holding the key to the Pasha’s library, but marriage annulled that honor. Instead, the mother she adored read books rather than ate food. Nonetheless, the tenacity and principles that guided her mother and grandmother have left an indelible impression on the daughter. This is a poignant story that will impress the reader with its eloquent and tender evocation of growing up in an immigrant culture.

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