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YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is a novel following an unnamed narrator back and forth through time, across the United States and the Middle East Our narrator is a Palestinian American queer woman grappling with a love addiction, a complex relationship with her mother, and countless destructive relationships The novel follows her as she goes into treatment for love addiction I can see her being an unlikeable character for sure, but I was helplessly rooting for her to face her demons, set boundaries wit YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is a novel following an unnamed narrator back and forth through time, across the United States and the Middle East Our narrator is a Palestinian American queer woman grappling with a love addiction, a complex relationship with her mother, and countless destructive relationships The novel follows her as she goes into treatment for love addiction I can see her being an unlikeable character for sure, but I was helplessly rooting for her to face her demons, set boundaries with her mother, and develop a healthy relationship to intimacy.I really enjoyed this book It was readable, engaging, and easy to get lost in something I needed Queer literature so often explores topics of shame around sexuality the desire for family acceptance, but I rarely get tired of reading them and this brought a fresh perspective since I haven t read a lot of queer Arab literature.I read a negative review on Goodreads that critiqued this book for its portrayal of bisexuality There are SO many harmful tropes about bisexuals as devious, promiscuous cheaters, etc, and the main character certainly is unfaithful struggles w commitment However I felt like the novel wasn t falling into a trope bc the author fully fleshed out the depth behind our protagonist s flawed relationship with her mother, how that showed up in her intimate relationships, and her desire to correct that I m open to other perspective on this there s a lot to unpack in this book.Thank you to the publisher for the free book in exchange for an honest review I genuinely enjoyed this recommend preordering it before it comes out in June In a word WOWSo, okay Book review of YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is up on my blog It s too long to fit here Suffice to say that a 30 something bisexual Palestinian American woman tells me my life in beautiful, painfully honest sentences I read this book twice and that is as y all re aware an increasingly rare occurrence for me, at my age and with my TBR approaching mid four figures The reason I decided that I needed a second trip through the book was simple I was so completely shattered by the h In a word WOWSo, okay Book review of YOU EXIST TOO MUCH is up on my blog It s too long to fit here Suffice to say that a 30 something bisexual Palestinian American woman tells me my life in beautiful, painfully honest sentences I read this book twice and that is as y all re aware an increasingly rare occurrence for me, at my age and with my TBR approaching mid four figures The reason I decided that I needed a second trip through the book was simple I was so completely shattered by the honest and vulnerable story Author Arafat tells, a story that could with only minor tweaks be my own, that I didn t trust my opinion forming ability I was too close, too in the moment, to feel remotely analytical.I was powerfully moved by this read I identified with this young woman s pathology and her ancestry, although I m not ethnically Arab or Palestinian or anything else the US looks down on I totally understand misgendering and omitting details about one s significant others Being situationally out, being reserved the polite self lie for closeted , being unable to see past the mountain of unworthy feelings that we stand under, behind, below.I want y all to read it Like, a lot A Provocative And Seductive Debut Of Desire And Doubleness That Follows The Life Of A Young Palestinian American Woman Caught Between Cultural, Religious, And Sexual Identities As She Endeavors To Lead An Authentic Life O, The Oprah Magazine On A Hot Day In Bethlehem, A Year Old Palestinian American Girl Is Yelled At By A Group Of Men Outside The Church Of The Nativity She Has Exposed Her Legs In A Biblical City, An Act They Deem Forbidden, And Their Judgement Will Echo On Through Her Adolescence When Our Narrator Finally Admits To Her Mother That She Is Queer, Her Mother S Response Only Intensifies A Sense Of Shame You Exist Too Much, She Tells Her DaughterTold In Vignettes That Flash Between The US And The Middle East From New York To Jordan, Lebanon, And Palestine Zaina Arafat S Debut Novel Traces Her Protagonist S Progress From Blushing Teen To Sought After DJ And Aspiring Writer In Brooklyn, She Moves Into An Apartment With Her First Serious Girlfriend And Tries To Content Herself With Their Comfortable Relationship But Soon Her Longings, So Closely Hidden During Her Teenage Years, Explode Out Into Reckless Romantic Encounters And Obsessions With Other People Her Desire To Thwart Her Own Destructive Impulses Will Eventually Lead Her To The Ledge, An Unconventional Treatment Center That Identifies Her Affliction As Love Addiction In This Strange, Enclosed Society She Will Start To Consider The Unnerving Similarities Between Her Own Internal Traumas And Divisions And Those Of The Places That Have Formed HerOpening Up The Fantasies And Desires Of One Young Woman Caught Between Cultural, Religious, And Sexual Identities, You Exist Too Much Is A Captivating Story Charting Two Of Our Most Intense Longings For Love, And A Place To Call Home It s always frustrating when a blurb promises one thing but the book does not follow thru You Exist intrigued me because it was seemingly a story of culture clash, a young American of Palestinian descent who struggles between the expectations of her Arab heritage and her quest to come into her own, an out and proud bisexual woman Unfortunately, 80% of the book does nothing of the sort The novel is told in first person present tense and reads like a journal that mostly details the mc s college It s always frustrating when a blurb promises one thing but the book does not follow thru You Exist intrigued me because it was seemingly a story of culture clash, a young American of Palestinian descent who struggles between the expectations of her Arab heritage and her quest to come into her own, an out and proud bisexual woman Unfortunately, 80% of the book does nothing of the sort The novel is told in first person present tense and reads like a journal that mostly details the mc s college partying days and bed hopping as well as her time at a therapy camp Much too long and tedious But at the very end, the narrative brightens and we get a taste of what might have been The unnamed main character takes us along as she enters the West Bank to attend her grandmother s funeral It s one of only a few brief but powerful moments throughout the book that reveal the heart of the story, a glimpse into the life of an American living between the Middle East and the USA and what it all might mean for a Palestinian woman who loves another woman Also importantly, a volatile daughter mother relationship exists that infuses much of the character s behavior but again, there s simply not enough development Undoubtedly, all of these short passages are where the book shines and I sincerely hope that the author revisits the material and revises the focus because it s too important a story to leave untold That s a book I would read willingly It is a bizarre and unsettling feeling, to exist in a liminal state between two realms, unable to attain full access to one or the other I received this arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review You exist too muchThese are the words of a mother to our unnamed narrator It is ironic that she would choose these words to berate her child considering that her character comes off too full of her own self and her own existence She really sees everything as it pertains to her and how it would affect her There is no compassion or empathy there Not especially for her daughter Instead, she blames the narrator for her sacrifice The life she would have had had she not fallen for her fatherYou exist too muchThese are the words of a mother to our unnamed narrator It is ironic that she would choose these words to berate her child considering that her character comes off too full of her own self and her own existence She really sees everything as it pertains to her and how it would affect her There is no compassion or empathy there Not especially for her daughter Instead, she blames the narrator for her sacrifice The life she would have had had she not fallen for her father Where she would have gone in the world if she had not got pregnant with the narrator a year later As you can see her mother is cruel and abusive This mother daughter relationship, its codependency, the abusive behavior is what our narrator brings into all of her love relationships Throughout the novel we see her try to deal with these issues through rehab centers and twelve step programs But she is messy Her baggage pollutes anyone who comes to love her as she cheats and invests her time in other people She is a love addict In love with the idea with being in love, but never loving the one she is with Instead she chases after the unattainable her counselor, her professor, married straight women She is reckless Not knowing how to love herself or considering herself worthy of love, she sees herself through her mother s eyes And although she knows that their relationship is dysfunctional she still craves her mother s affection and attention Does she figure it all out and fix herself up in the end I am not sure As with real life we come to know what our flaws are and we may understand the root of our problems Regardless of how much work we may put in we will never be perfect We can only hope that we are better versions of ourselves.Here are some quotes from the book that moved me and capture the essence of the narrator On her discovering her sexualityI enjoyed occupying blurred lines Ambiguity was an unsettling yet exhilarating space On her relationship with her motherher approval was my compass, even when that meant resisting it On her pursuing the unattainableThe less visible I was to her, the thinner I got and the less space I took up in her life, thelikely things were to continue I d been clinging to her I love yous like a refugee clings to a threatened nationality They were the homeland that validated my existenceSpecial thanks to NetGalley, Catapult and Zaina Arafat for access to this book It is a bizarre and unsettling feeling, to exist in a liminal state between two realms, unable to attain full access to one or the other Although I d intended to read You Exist Too Much I nearly didn t after reading a really negative review for it, one that was very critical of Zaina Arafat s depiction of bisexuality Luckily, my mother read this first and recommended it to me While I believe that the gender and sexual orientation of a reviewer should not bias their opinion of a book, and I It is a bizarre and unsettling feeling, to exist in a liminal state between two realms, unable to attain full access to one or the other Although I d intended to read You Exist Too Much I nearly didn t after reading a really negative review for it, one that was very critical of Zaina Arafat s depiction of bisexuality Luckily, my mother read this first and recommended it to me While I believe that the gender and sexual orientation of a reviewer should not bias their opinion of a book, and I generally don t refer to my own sexuality, in this case I ll make an exception For what is worth, I m bisexual and I was not in the least offended by the novel s representation of bisexuality When an author writes about a character and evenso when they draw upon their own personal experiences to do so they are presenting a unique point of view and they are not making generalisations for entire groups of people The protagonist of this novel is a love addict not because of her bisexuality but because of her distorted relationship with her parents in particular with her mother and her belief that she s not worthy of love Arafat never implies that bisexual people can t be faithful nor does she suggests that her protagonist s love addiction is caused by her bisexuality it seems to stem instead from her fraught relationship to her narcissistic mother.Arafat portrayal of mental illness also struck me as incredibly realistic and deeply resonated with my own personal experiences having had an eating disorder and having lived with a parent affected by a mental illness and substance abuse issues.All of this to say that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Arafat s treatment of mental and physical health conditions struck me as both informed and believable feel free to disagree.I will say that while I found this to be a deeply compelling read, I m aware that it may not appeal to readers who dislike reading about self destructive characters If you hated Madame Bovary for the selfish behaviour of its eponymous heroine, well, chances are you won t like this one either curiously enough Arafat s protagonist thinks rather harshly of Emma Bovary for her childish fantasies and for cheating on Charles All along I knew what I was doing was wrong, that I was dangerously close to a precipice But still, I need to fall in order to stop You Exist Too Much presents its readers with an intimate and in depth character study While there are many new novels featuring self loathing protagonists whose alienation interferes with their ability to form and sustain meaningful connections with others, You Exist Too Much feels like a fresh take on this genre After yet another breakup the unnamed main character of You Exist Too Much tries to break free from this vicious cycle of self sabotaging She s unable, and at times unwilling, to maintain healthy relationships with others and frequently becomes drawn to unattainable people, infatuation which soon morph into toxic obsessions Arafat s protagonist mistakes attention for affection and she repeatedly harms those who actually care for her in order to pursue her objet petit a what can I say, Lacan comes in handy now and again When the main character s girlfriend finds out about her latest inappropriate emotional connection , she breaks up with her, telling her to sift through your issues and face them so that maybe one day you ll learn you can t treat people with such disregard Even yourself Our narrator attempts to do just that.The narrative moves between past and present, from the Middle East to New York City and from Italy and Egypt Readers are given a glimpse into the protagonist s childhood her emotionally distant father, her overbearing narcissistic mother where we see the way these early years skew her self perception Her mother tells her she s unlovable and that she exists too much The narrator is aware that her attraction towards women is a problem for her mother, yet, even if she knows that she would beaccepted if she were to become exclusively romantically involved with men, she pursues relationships with women So, while our protagonist clearly seeks her mother s approval, she s unwilling to deny her sexuality.Throughout the course of the novel readers will realise that the narrator is perpetuating the same self destructive behaviour Regardless of how her relationships start, they always seem to come to disastrous ends because of her unfaithfulness emotional and physical and her love addiction , her solipsism and self loathing, and her underlining unresolved issues with herself and her mother.Now, I know that I m making this novel sound rather depressing And, to be fair, it has quite a few bleak moments The protagonist makes a lot of awful choices, and she does some really terrible things She s also pretty much aware that her actions are wrong, and she does try to improve for example she goes to rehab her love addiction There aredowns than ups as time and again we witness her repeating the same damaging behaviour becoming attached to unavailable or toxic people It certainly isn t easy to unlearn habits, especially ones that are instilled in us during our upbringing Our narrator messes up a lot, she hurts people who genuinely love her breaking their trust, keeping them at arm s length and readers will probably want to shake her quite a few times Still, I found myself growing attached to her I really liked her cutting sense of humour, which also lightens the overall tone, and her introspectiveness Her longing for happiness, for love, for acceptance, are rendered with clarity Regardless of when or where she is New York or the West Bank the narrator is deeply aware of her own otherness Although she grew up outside of the Middle East she remains strongly attached to her Arab roots, yet, she notes that it s the idiosyncrasies of culture that keep me an outsider, and leave me with a persistent and pervasive sense of otherness, of non belonging In the U S too she s just as much of an outsider and she s made starkly aware of her nonconformity.Arafat introduces her readers to flawed, yet ultimately compelling, characters Regardless of their role in the narrator s story, these characters who are all contending with their own issues and desires felt incredibly nuanced.While this novel focuses a lot on the narrator failing to connect to others, there are moments of genuine understanding and love between the protagonist and her acquaintances friends partners The narrator s quest for love isn t a happy one and her self divide between family obligation and desire, between her homelands, between the kind of person she is and the person she wants to be don t make for easy reading material Still, the directness of Arafat s narrator can at times make her into a rather charming individual You Exist Too Much is an impressive debut novel, one that is poignant, thoughtful, and bold and will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay First off, I have to say this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year If you ve been following me for awhile you know I love Middle Eastern lit and obviously as a queer woman who has been begging and pleading forqueer women s stories finding this one was amazing I ve been telling people about it and recommending it for so many months And as a Jewish woman who readsIsraeli lit than most, I ve been making the effort to readPalestinian authors There are some scenes th First off, I have to say this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year If you ve been following me for awhile you know I love Middle Eastern lit and obviously as a queer woman who has been begging and pleading forqueer women s stories finding this one was amazing I ve been telling people about it and recommending it for so many months And as a Jewish woman who readsIsraeli lit than most, I ve been making the effort to readPalestinian authors There are some scenes that take place at the Israeli Palestinian border that were uncomfortable for me to read but I was glad that I did and grateful they were included I did not expect this book to hit quite so close to home but at the center of this one in so many ways is how our earliest relationships and experiences shape us and our unnamed narrator in You Exist Too Much has a mother who I d definitely call a narcissist When you grow up knowing your mothers live is very conditional and that try and try and TRY as you might you never can seem to meet those conditions, not really it damages you You live your life certain that if your own mother couldn t love you, maybe no one ever will, and spend your time guarding your heart What this looks like from the outside varies and on the most basic level I have coped much differently than the narrator in this book but as she attends a rehab like facility for love addiction and is forced to confront her issues, underneath it all, oof, the narrator and I sure had so much in common And that wasn t always pleasant to realize Sometimes she drove me absolutely mad with the horrible decisions she made I had to sit with this book after finishing and then just start throwing down thoughts to even begin to figure out how to review it I ve read quite a few books in recent months with unlikeable and very troubled characters and they ve all kind of had this same general theme of making you understand why these characters behave the way they do and make the choices you can t stand That s something very special and I m well aware in many ways I didn t always like this character for the mirror she was holding up to myself On this subject, I wanted to include a quote from the author from an interview with The Rumpus discussing this book This leads to another question I get asked a lot, which is, why is the narrator so painful And I think the answer is that this is the reality of internalized homophobia It s what being abused looks like It looks like a constant inclination to sabotage yourself and project that self loathing onto others, and thwart your ability to find love, which is the only thing the character really wants It was meant to be an unflinching look at how these conditions can manifest in human beings The above may not be immediately clear to every reader and I, on some level, didn t totally want to see it but yes This I know I can be every bit as intense, self protective and self sabotaging I find those two go perversely hand in hand for many , and often unintentionally abrasive as the character in this story In the book our narrator ponders I m aware I can be exhausting you exist too much, my mother often told me The title of this book is what immediately drew my attention and excited me and I know this is because I m incredibly familiar with that feeling, believing I m too much, I exist too much In fact theI discuss this, theI think I m bumping my rating I have never read another book that reflected so much and so well on these very difficult parts of myself And I think I m also in place and space to finally be owning my own damage and working to heal I needed this novel Reading it, in fact, I had to triple check it wasn t nonfiction because woah does it ever read that way The detailed memories, the extremely familiar sort of narcissistic behavior from the mother, this books reads raw, rawer than many memoirs even get I m still curious how much of it may be based of Arafat s own experiences and good gosh would I ever love to meet her and discuss her book with her In addition to the above, the other underlying theme of the novel is a constant sense of displacement This exists in relation to the narrators relationship with her mother and the abuse there, with the homophobia internal, external, cultural and religious, and also in the way our main character never fully fits in within the US or even the Arab diaspora community her family is a part of but when she spends summers in Jordan and the West Bank, she doesn t fit in there either Another favorite line of mine from the book is this comparison I d been clinging to her I love yous like a refugee clings to a threatened nationality They were the homeland that validated my existence And in another section she brings up being a people without a country and how lost that can make you feel when you re forever a minority and don t fit in but don t have a place of your own Jumping back to what I said in my first paragraph, and including it because while this book is fiction, the author is a journalist and she has a master s degree in international affairs, and parts of this book are inherently political I found the last part above striking because if anything this is the thing Jews Israelis and Palestinians both have in common, why so many Jews feel conflicted because we want, need, ache for our own homeland too A favorite politician of mine, intimately involved in peace negotiations often says that it can t be a religious negotiation because religious conflicts are unsolvable but reading this part of the book I began to wonder it the real issue is it s an emotional, belonging and longing argument and if maybe that s the most unsolvable conflict of all I wasn t expecting to gain a new outlook on a political issue so important to me but gosh, this book was meant for me And I appreciate the endless things I gained from it If that isn t a testament to an incredible writer I don t know what is This wasn t the review I expected to write either but I think it s an incredibly honest one and a reflection on what this book is Thank you to Zaina and Catapult not just for my early copy of the book, but for giving me a book that gave me so much, held a mirror up to many of my own experiences and most difficult parts of myself This is the kind of book I ll hold in my heart for a lifetime For fans of Garth Greenwell and Weike Wang, You Exist Too Much is a startling debut novel of desire and doubleness following the life of a young Palestinian American woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities. The background of the novel is a woman born to Palestinian parents, who were forced to relocate in 1967 They have family in Lebanon, West Bank, and Jordan, but live in America Her parents had a volatile relationship and her mother has often treated her like competition or an inconvenience, telling her You exist too much when she responds emotionally, especially when she starts trying to come out to her The refusal to understand her daughter as anything but straight is one backbone to the no The background of the novel is a woman born to Palestinian parents, who were forced to relocate in 1967 They have family in Lebanon, West Bank, and Jordan, but live in America Her parents had a volatile relationship and her mother has often treated her like competition or an inconvenience, telling her You exist too much when she responds emotionally, especially when she starts trying to come out to her The refusal to understand her daughter as anything but straight is one backbone to the novel.But this is not a family saga It slike a recovery novel At the start of the novel, a relationship between the MC and her girlfriend Anna has just ended and it s definitely her fault She s been sleeping with randos at the bar where she DJs and carrying on with a married professor while claiming to be monogamous she decides to check in to a facility for addictionlove addiction I was a bit surprised at this as the majority of the story, because the very first scene of the novel, where she gets in trouble for exposing her ankles in Bethlehem, made me think it would be a different type of story.I wasinterested in the parts about her mother, honestly, what her life started as and what happened in the war, the distributed nature of her family, the strangeness of her parents marriage and how violence was the only form of attention the author was making the connection between that upbringing and the MC s behavior but I think the piece that was missing is that I m not sure the MC ever does This makes it feel like the novel is a snapshot of the story but not the entire story, and I think that s okay, but somehow not as satisfying as I would have liked.ETA Okay, so I literally just wrote this review a couple of hours ago, by my thumbs in Instagram this morning after sleeping on finishing the book last night Since then I have watched one 15 minute video that is part of Resmaa Menakem s free eCourse on Racialized Trauma and if you add that context and understanding to this novel woah The MC s tendency to make everything about her, to become hypersensitive and volatile, emotional, to exist too much what if that is her only option of response to the racialized trauma her family has experienced in the last few generations and of course before that but very centrally on her parents and grandparents in particular I don t know if Arafat intended this connection but it is an interesting one to think about I had a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss, and it came out June 9, 2020. Before being sent an arc for this book i remember coming across it and being excited for the lgbt pali representation Not even halfway through and this book manages to strike every single way to disrespect sexuality and mental illness, brimming with stereotypes and unrealistic representations This is extremely harmful towards bisexuals specifically, making them labeled as love addicts going around falling in love with every person they meet and getting obsessed with them, jumping from a Before being sent an arc for this book i remember coming across it and being excited for the lgbt pali representation Not even halfway through and this book manages to strike every single way to disrespect sexuality and mental illness, brimming with stereotypes and unrealistic representations This is extremely harmful towards bisexuals specifically, making them labeled as love addicts going around falling in love with every person they meet and getting obsessed with them, jumping from a person to another Adding to the fact the main character was the most annoying thing i read about since clary fairchild from tmi, and the obnoxious writing like what does she gives golden retriever warmth supposed to be this book would be impossible to finish Authors, please understand the next time you write about a bi character that Bisexuals are not cheaters.Bisexuals are not love addicts or sex addicts.Shitty people are cheaters Sex addiction is a condition to be handled not part of your sexual orientation