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Book Review: The Year I Learned to Text: Why Am I Having Sex with a Muslim in My Basement? by Juliet Montague

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Sixty-year-old Juliet Montague is a part-time actress, comedian, and real estate agent. She has also been divorced four times. She lives a quiet life with her two dogs. Being a relationship kind of lady, when loneliness strikes she decides to try online dating. While she easily weeds out a few serious losers, she finds herself being drawn under the spell of a thirty-eight-year-old Persian Muslim named Ali. Initially she tries to convince him that he is crazy for wanting to date a woman her age, but he manages to win her over. After a couple of dates, she finds herself unable to stop thinking about him.

Ali is an attractive man who seems to know how to hit all of Juliet’s vulnerable spots — her emotional ones, anyway. Sexually, he knows that she craves a physical connection with him; however, he is a very selfish lover. Claiming religious reasons, he does not invite her into his home to meet his family. He also tells her that she can be his lover for five years, and then he has to marry a woman that will be of his faith and be able to bear him children. He is not willing to offer her much, yet she stays hooked on him. When their dates dwindle down to romantic encounters in her house, and phones calls become intermittent texts, Juliet still stays attached to him. Not even his constantly running nose can dissuade her from being with him.

Juliet does try to move forward with her life. She continues to do occasional dates with men from the Internet; however, none of them would be capable of helping her move beyond Ali. She also buys a small dream home in the mountains where she can escape from city life. Ali, of course, thinks that it is too far of a drive, even though he is willing to travel farther to be with friends. One thing Juliet is able to do is use her relationship with Ali as a great source for material for her stand up routines.

Juliet’s family, including her mother and daughters are extremely concerned for her. This is understandably so because no one wants to see a loved one being emotionally taken advantage of. Rather than heed their warnings, she just backs off on talking about him to them. As time passes, Juliet resorts to using the Internet to try to learn more about Ali’s faith and why he is like he is. What she reads teaches her that his religion promotes a great deal of his behavior. There will be no changing him, not for long anyway. But Juliet is in love…

The Year I Learned to Text contains a great deal of humorous stories, even when Ali is being bad. I also found it to be very educating and hopefully eye opening to women who might find themselves wandering down this same path with an emotionally unavailable man; having been there myself, I could totally relate to much of what she was experiencing. Juliet presents herself to be a woman who really deserves so much better than Ali has to offer. Her devotion to her dogs certainly earned her a lot of points with me. This is highly recommended reading, especially for women’s reader groups.

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