East of Mecca

East of Mecca

by Sheila Flaherty


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490315232
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/23/2013
Pages: 338
Sales rank: 613,218
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Sheila Flaherty is a writer and clinical psychologist who specializes in helping people navigate through life changes with grace and ease. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Houston. Flaherty earned her Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

Growing up an "Army brat" and as a young woman she lived in numerous places in the states and overseas, including Germany and Singapore. Her life experiences and extensive education make her a kind, intuitive, and life-transforming therapist. Flaherty has had a thriving private counseling practice in the Chicago area for the past 34 years, except for one year spent in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Flaherty has always been passionately drawn to righting injustice. While living in Saudi, her compassion led her to practice counseling secretly, helping to empower the American and Saudi women she met. This experience inspired her to write East of Mecca, a novel about women living within the confines of a violent, oppressive, male-dominated society.

Known for her ability to immediately immerse her readers in a scene and leaving them longing for more, Flaherty has placed in several screenwriting competitions, including Big Break, BlueCat, CineStory, and the Nicholl Fellowships. In 2010, 2013, and 2016, she was awarded residencies at the Ragdale Foundation for her work in fiction. East of Mecca was awarded a Silver Nautilus Book Award in Fiction for 2015, and is IndieReader Approved with a 5-star review. East of Mecca has a near 5-star review from Amazon.com readers, and is also an Amazon.com Best Seller in Middle Eastern Literature. Flaherty's life mission continues to be to enlighten, inspire, and empower others for the greater good.

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East of Mecca 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Literary_Titan More than 1 year ago
East of Mecca,by Sheila Flaherty, details the journey of Sarah Hayes from a wife and mother of two to a woman forever changed by her time spent in Saudi Arabia. Set in the 1980s, Sarah’s story begins when her husband Max, a highly-motivated but fairly unstable man, accepts a job with Ocmara, a lucrative oil company, and moves his family overseas. Sarah and her two young children soon experience oppression, fear, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness as residents of Al Hassa. Sarah’s life in the Middle East spirals out of control as she fights to keep her family together and save the life of a woman she never expected to adore. Though I have fought hard to avoid the cliche, I have to say East of Mecca is a book I could not put down. From the moment Max tells Sarah of his job offer and their impending move, Sarah’s experiences flowed awkwardly with all the grace of a line of shaky but properly placed dominoes. I found myself holding my breath and waiting for the next collapse of Sarah’s world. At every turn, I expected her world to crash around her and ached alongside her while she slowly realized that her passport was not her own, nor were most of her choices--least of all her ability to work or make decisions. Flaherty paints a bleak picture of life in Saudi Arabia while at the same time giving credit to its purity and breathtaking beauty. She manages to build a type of fear in the reader that I have yet to experience in any other book. Sarah, a strong woman in her own right, is the ideal character for the setting and events Flaherty creates. As I watched her virtually unbreakable spirit tested page after page, I was able to visualize with frightening ease the true depth of suffering and shocking brutality endured by women within the culture. Watching Sarah feel herself falter and face her own vulnerabilities drove home the plight of the other wives of Ocmara’s employees and the Saudi women. The author reveals heart-wrenching details of abuse and a sense of control by males that seems to spread like a virus to those who linger long enough within the country’s borders. Sarah’s gradual meeting and ensuing friendship with Yasmeen is stretched throughout the storyline and keeps the reader yearning for just one more tidbit--one more clue. Flaherty manages to provide an element of mystery with Sarah’s sightings of Yasmeen, aloof and lonely on the beach, and then masterfully weaves it into a tale of two friends sharing a common bond of love and tragedy. I am wholeheartedly rating East of Mecca a 5 out 5. Within its pages lies a tale all too true and far too common. There is an education of sorts to be had from absorbing oneself in Sarah’s utter desperation and final rebellion. The first person account is a must-read for women everywhere and a reread for myself. Flaherty’s Sarah and Yasmeen represent two ends of a spectrum, two cultures, yet they are one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sheila Flaherty's novel East of Mecca is forged from the crucible of personal experience and from the experiences of others close to her while living as an expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Through the narrator's eyes, we witness the hardships and injustices faced by Saudi women. More surprising—and more unsettling, perhaps—are the oppression and domestic miseries borne by wives and daughters in some expat communities, which Flaherty depicts with unflinching realism and compassion. This is a cautionary tale of good intentions gone wrong, of the skewed power dynamics that couples are likely to confront, both within and outside their home, if they choose to pursue the American dream overseas in a society that denies women basic human rights. —Mary Trouille, Professor of Women's Studies, Illinois State University
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
East of Mecca portrays the author's experiences when she lived in Saudi Arabia with her husband and children. While the job opportunity was great for her husband and the family, the Saudi customs relative to the treatment and second class status of women ultimately destroyed the family and her marriage. Unfortunately, her husband, Max, begins to believe and support the local customs and ultimately turns on the family.......a Range Rover and a new Rolex watch and physical domination of his family now define this low key engineer originally from Chicago. He drank the "Kool-Aid." Sheila Flaherty's character development and her ability to tell the story are outstanding. This is a book you can not put down....it grips you with its unbelievable anger and cruelty while exhibiting the great love the key character, Sarah, has for her children and her friends. Fortunately, she has the strength and courage to leave the country in order to save herself and her children. Saudi Arabia is properly portrayed as a country that does not believe in equal protection under the law and Sheila's book will hopefully help to change this. Bud Shapiro
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Truly Moving, Powerful and Life-Changing Story Sheila Flaherty takes us on a fictitious journey guaranteed to challenge and forever haunt our perceptions and views of identity, self-worth, inner strength, love, life and personal survival skills.  A must read for anyone interested in how Westerners (both female and male, young and adult) would fare and react if they suddenly found themselves uprooted to a sex- and religious-separate, male-dominated society.  I could not stop reading this captivating tale and did not want it to end.  From the opening moment, when the focal character and narrative voice, Sarah, finds and reluctantly opens, a box that releases items from her repressed past, Flaherty eloquently weaves her intricate web.  Along the way, she captures the meaning, strength and integrity of universal sisterhood.  She reveals how women deftly secret themselves from the power and devastating consequences of unleashed and unchecked masculine domination.   Flaherty infuses scene after scene, with eloquent descriptive textures that almost feel painted instead of written.  She capably captures sights, sounds and motions unique to Saudi Arabia  – of bright sun and infinite stars, of oppressive heat and cooling waters, of stifling solitude and bustling commotion – that often tax a foreigner’s sanity.  She empathetically brings us to a deep understanding of each character’s thoughts, feelings and inner struggles.   This is a story for both men and women -- especially those who want to explore the under-belly of a sex-separate society as it goes about its daily routines.  Her nuanced narrative slowly unravels and then exposes how ancient customs and practices often conflict with modern realities.   This societal tension ultimately extracts its separate toll on each character.  It sometimes inundates common sense, fosters clandestine and illegal behavior, engulfs family values, tests loving relationships, and leaves death and destruction behind in its wake.