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That culture clash and her experience as a third culture kid were the inspirations for “The Ruins of Us,” a novel about an American expatriate, Rosalie, whose Saudi husband takes a second wife. Rosalie’s 16-year-old son Faisal, struggling to reconcile his mixed heritage, falls in line with an increasingly radicalized sheikh in a country experiencing a surge of anti-American sentiment in the wake of 9-11, and her 14-year-old daughter Miriam who resists traditional rules regarding clothing and roles for women by wearing an eggplant-colored abaya.

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Columbia-based author Keija Parssinen knows what it’s like to not quite fit in.


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