Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: The Contract

Are you a woman working in a mostly male-dominated work environment? You'll relate to, and likely enjoy, this book.

The Contract - Sheila Grinell
Joanna and Ev have been partners for ten years―in business and in love―when one of the only women in government in the Middle East invites their firm to design a children’s museum in Riyadh. Jo sees a chance to solidify her name in the design world, and help Saudi girls along the way, in the venture. Her husband, however, has no desire to work in a vigorously policed society; he prefers to remain in his workshop, fashioning gadgets for museum displays. Jo’s sister and young protégé share his doubts, but Ev accedes to Jo’s wishes. The process of bidding on the job soon throws their home office into chaos and challenges their long-held assumptions about the value of their work―and marriage. If they get the job, will their partnership survive the strain?
Can I just start by saying I really love this cover? You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I do and I'm not even ashamed. I love this cover.

I originally agreed to review this book because I don't really know much about Saudi Arabian culture let alone how it would be as a woman working with men there when that's almost unheard of. The challenge Jo would face obviously are huge, but I didn't really think really think about how that culture would bleed into her relationship with Ev almost. Jo and Ev are partners in every sense but this new job for Jo throws a wrench into everything despite best intentions.

Let's talk some negatives for me first. I thought the book was a little slow and sometimes I had a hard time sticking with it, though I'm glad I did. At times I felt Jo was kind of..... I felt like she wasn't always cognizant of everyone else around her. She is very focused on her goal and she didn't always consider the impact it would have on others.

With that, I really liked how this book covered working in a new cultural environment. There are moments where it gets a little awkward or a little intense, and sometimes confusing if you aren't familiar with the culture (things that would be considered disrespectful here are not that way there and vice versa) , but I think the author did a good job at highlighting that without it overwhelming the story. I liked the tension and subtle lessons about marriage throughout the book, specifically about how important communication is, how important compromise is, and how you have to work at it. How a good marriage is consistent, steady, never ending work. Also, there's this theme of having realistic goals and expectations not just for each other but for yourself as well. Personally it was a good reminder for me in my marriage. I went into this book thinking this was a work related/professional development kind of novel and it was... kind of... but I felt like it was more about personal and relationship development in a way. So all of that to say the character development is really good.

Overall, I really liked this. I would give it a solid 4 stars. I was a little worried because it was slow in some spots but when you get to the meat of the story, it's really very good and I think so many can relate to it. It would make for an excellent book club pick and also includes some reader discussion questions at the end to get your meeting started.

A big thank you to She Writes Press for sending me a copy of this and McKinney PR for inviting me on this tour. This post contains affiliate links. 

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