Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not very experienced with writing reviews for nonfiction, but I'll do my best.

So, I don't know how to review this book without doing a summary first, which probably spoils the book. But since it's nonfiction, I figure everyone pretty much knows the story anyway.

I first noticed this book on Goodreads in an ad. Then it was mentioned in a National Geographic article I read. So I thought I'd see what it was all about. It was one of the most depressing books I've ever read, partly because it was true, partly because there are so many stories like it and so little that can be done to stop it.

The book is about Nujood, a 10-ish girl in poor, rural Yemen. Her father decides to marry her off to a 30-something year old neighbor with the promise that the man won't 'touch her until puberty.' Of course that doesn't happen. Nujood's husband, who basically bought her for $750, beats her with a stick, slaps and punches her, and rapes her repeatedly for a few months until she runs away and goes to the court. Miraculously, they agree to help her even though this is apparently a common practice among rural communities. Nujood's mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who live with her and her husband during all this, congratulate her after her wedding night and also contribute to her beatings. However, no one helps the girl, including her parents, since this is not an uncommon situation. In fact, when she tells her family about the situation, her father says she has to stick with her husband so as not to bring shame on the family, and her mother basically says it sucks but that's life.

Eventually, Nujood gets her divorce and goes home. She starts school again but drops out. Her family lets her come home, although they resent her disobedience and the media circus caused by her divorce.

This book was pretty horrifying to read, even though everything was very, very subtle and discrete. It didnt have to be graphic to be gruesome though. You knew this thirty-year-old guy was raping a ten-year-old and that everyone just looked the other way--that was more than enough to make you want to barf/scream/shudder/cry. I can't remember ever tearing up more while reading a book--I was pretty much a mess. Even looking at the cover made me cry at some point!

This is an eye-opening book, but do not read it unless you can bear to have your eyes opened to something very disturubing. I know some people like to read that kind of fiction books, about little-girl sex slaves, but I just can't stand that sort of thing. And the non-fiction version, while not going into all the graphic descriptions, was more than I wanted to know. I'm glad I read this book, despite the depressing aspect. It's definitely an issue that deserves attention. I'd recommend this book to anyone with a strong stomach for stories about child abuse/rape/mistreatment.

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