by Joyce Zonana

Out of Egypt

Feminism in the Levant

Toward the end of her troubled, troubling memoir of her own and her mother’s lives, Lucette Lagnado in The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn (Ecco, $25.99) finds herself longing for the “absolute protection” and love she experienced as a child in the women’s section of her Brooklyn synagogue. Although as an adolescent she had resented being behind the wooden divider separating the women from the men — going so far as to organize a stealthy rebellion — Lagnado now questions her own restlessness: “I was part of an entire generation that had escaped dividers,” she writes. “We had, together, reached the men’s section and exultantly sat down with them to find … To find what exactly?

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