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10 November 2010 @ 10:15 am
Book Review  

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating story about a courageous 10-year old. After I finished the book, I pondered whether, if I had been in her place, would I have had the courage that she had. Here's hoping that by having her story published and read by the world, the plight of many other young girls of similar fate will be changed.

There were some bothersome points in the story. Basically, a polygamous society will encounter this type of problem. To allow men to marry more than one wife and have more children than he can afford to feed is criminal. Nujood’s father, not only had sired 16 children with his first wife (Nujood's mother), but he went and increased his family by marrying another woman who gave him an additional 5 children. In order to get meager food on the table, many members of the family were beggars, including wife #2 (who, I gathered from the story, was later left to fend for herself by her addicted-to-khat—a stimulant similar to cocaine—husband). Many, including Nujood’s father, who live in this type of poverty, find that selling their daughters into marriage solves their financial burden of fending for that extra mouth to feed. Because of ignorance and lack of education these men fail to see the harm they inflict on their daughters. The prospect of getting rid of the extra burden, compounded with their the lack of respect for women, their total disinterest of the well being of their daughters, and their total reliance on preserving the “family honor,” encourages marrying off the female member of the family before she even reaches puberty. Marrying the child before she can be sexually active is a far better alternative than to risk her to mar the “family honor.” It is far easier to close one eye’s to what happens in a conjugal bedroom, even if it’s before the onset of puberty, than it is to raise that child.

Nujood’s father blindly believes that the man who is 30 years older that her daughter will marry her and take care of her without touching her before she reaches puberty. All the father cares for is the fact that he is paid a sizable amount for his daughter, leaving him no longer responsible for Nujood’s welfare. When his daughter comes home, he turns a deaf ear to his daughter’s complaints. Her mother, like her father is another member of the family who turns a deaf ear to her daughter’s complaint. It’s interesting that Nujood’s second wife is the one who plants the seed of seeking a divorce into Nujood’s ears. It is also interesting that this wife is left to fend for herself to beg for food and for her own rent, as she is practically abandoned by her husband.

This book is easy and is fast to read. There’s not much substance to it. I surmise that is so because the story is told in a 10-year-old-girl’s point of view. The story is not written by Nujood, as the prose is too sophisticated to be written by a practically illiterate child; but probably it was written after the author compiled her many interviews she had with Nujood. The most difficult thing I found to read about was the night Nujood was raped by her husband. No one came to her aid. What kind of a woman is her mother-in-law who idly slept by when her son was raping a 10-year old, and, then, in the morning to happily congratulate them upon seeing blood on the sheets? This woman should be in jail. In fact, her pedophile son and Nujood’s criminal father should never have been released from jail either.

I, like many other readers, would love to read Nujood’s real story. The story I am hoping she will be able to write when she is older. I hope that her determination to help others like her will continue to be part of her and that she will be able to fulfill her dreams.

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Greygreyrider on November 10th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Wow. What an incredibly story, and the truth behind it is so sad. I'm not sure I could read this book without having nightmares.

Good book review. Thank you for sharing.
~Lirpa~: Books on Shelfkatje0711 on November 10th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good book, yet very sad.
tigermind: Ben—weepingtigermind on November 10th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be able to read this book, but i'm glad it was written.