Daring to Drive

A Saudi Woman's Awakening

Daring to Drive

A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties she was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound that resembled suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her teenage brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel.

Daring to Drive is the fiercely intimate memoir of an accidental activist, a powerfully vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Writing on the cusp of history, Manal offers a rare glimpse into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia today. Her memoir is a remarkable celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny, the extraordinary power of education and female solidarity, and the difficulties, absurdities, and joys of making your voice heard.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476793023 | 
  • June 2017
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Daring to Drive includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Manal Al-Sharif. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Born to struggling parents in Mecca, Manal al-Sharif understood from an early age that she would never experience the same freedoms her male peers enjoyed. In keeping with Saudi custom, from the onset of puberty, Manal had to remain fully veiled and become virtually invisible; wearing perfume and leaving the house unless absolutely necessary were considered sinful. She faced an abrupt separation from her male cousins, and she was discouraged from any self-expression.

As an adolescent, Manal found herself drawn to the incendiary teachings of her radical Islamist instructors, and she became a religious zealot herself, eagerly exposing the forbidden activities of her own siblings. But by her twenties, after earning a university degree, Manal was a computer security engineer, one of a few women working in a desert compound that functioned more like suburban America than the Saudi kingdom. With her eyes wide open to the opportunities and liberties that had previously been denied to her as a female citizen, Manal al-Sharif found see more

About the Author

Manal al-Sharif

Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who was imprisoned in 2011 for driving a car. She has been lauded by Foreign PolicyTimeForbes, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. Daring to Drive is her first book.