Rebel: My Escape from Saudi Arabia to Freedom (Hardcover)
A gripping memoir of bravery and sacrifice by a young woman whose escape from her abusive family and an oppressive culture in Saudi Arabia captivated the world
In early 2019, after three years of careful planning, Rahaf Mohammed finally escaped her abusive family in Saudi Arabia—but made it only to Bangkok before being stripped of her passport. If forced to return home, she was sure she would be killed, like other rebel women in her country. As men pounded at the door of her barricaded hotel room, she opened a Twitter account. The teenager reached out to the world, and the world answered—she gained 45,000 followers in one day, and those followers helped her seek asylum in the West.
Now Rahaf Mohammed tells her remarkable story in her own words, revealing untold truths about life in the closed kingdom, where young women are brought up in a repressive system that puts them under the legal control of a male guardian. Raised with immense financial privilege but under the control of her male relatives—including her high-profile politician father—she endured an abusive childhood in which oppression and deceit were the norm.
Moving from Rahaf’s early days on the underground online network of Saudi runaways, who use coded entries to learn how to flee the brutalities of their homeland, to her solo escape to Canada, Rebel is a breathtaking and life-affirming memoir about one woman’s tenacious pursuit of freedom.
RAHAF MOHAMMED was eighteen years old when she dramatically escaped from Saudi Arabia, capturing world-wide attention through her Twitter account. The daughter of a politician, Rahaf was raised according to an oppressive interpretation of Islam, where women and girls are given virtually no freedom. Thanks to a public plea for her life made on social media, Rahaf was eventually granted asylum in Canada, where she still lives, advocating for the freedom and empowerment of women.
“A harrowing account of a Saudi woman’s triumph over oppression. . . . Mohammed creates a tense narrative of her desperate flight, the efforts of her powerful father to stop her, and the determined journalist who came to her aid.” — Kirkus Reviews
“I read each page with my heart firmly in my mouth. In stunning detail, Rebel takes you inside the real-life, dystopic world of the Saudi Kingdom, where men, and even boys, can control nearly every aspect of a woman’s life, from her birth until her death. This is the astonishing story of how one incredibly courageous teenager took on Saudi Arabia’s archaic male guardianship system and won! An inspiring read that will leave you shaking with fury, and then cheering in solidarity.” — Sophie McNeill, Human Rights Watch, author of We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know
“Rebel makes it clear that the cultural honor/shame dynamic and the male guardianship system continue to weigh heavily on the daily lives of Saudi women and their moral universe, through a complex mixture of psychological, cultural and religious elements. Rahaf ultimately fled the Kingdom, under cover of darkness by the skin of her teeth, in order to spread her wings. Saudi women deserve better, safer options for their future.” — Ayaan Hirsi Ali, founder, AHA Foundation; research fellow, Hoover Institution; author of Infidel and Prey
“Mohammed, who garnered international headlines as a teenager in 2019 when she fled Saudi Arabia and was detained by authorities in Thailand, recounts her daring path to liberation in this potent debut. . . . Her scorching indictment serves as a beacon for women worldwide yearning for freedom.” — Publishers Weekly