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We were living rather happily, to the rhythm of the sun. It was a simple life, but peaceful, without electricity or running water” I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood Ali & Delphine Minoui

mountain-1311543_1920Initial Thoughts: Now that I am a young adult, I have begun to feel a self-imposed responsibility to learn about how the world works. It is not that I have been turning a blind eye to the world around me. Rather, I found myself shuddering at the events in the news without really trying to understand WHY these things occur. And so, I ended up challenging myself to read more non-fiction books. A year ago, I would have said “non-fiction books are so boring.” Some of them are. But… many aren’t, and they can make you appreciate the life you have. This is one of such books.

Summary

In 2008, ten-year-old Nujood Ali shocked the world when she demanded for a divorce from her husband. Nujood, a young girl from Yemen was married to a man three times her age and was repeatedly physically and sexually abused. With the help of a skilled lawyer and the media, Nujood’s case was taken to court. After a grueling court battle, Nujood eventually won her freedom and became one of the youngest divorcées in the world

About the Book

Title: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (original French title: Moi Nujood, 10 ans, divorcée)

Author: Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui

Translated: Linda Coverdale

Pages: 188

Year Published: 2009

Genres & Subjects: Non-fiction, Yemen, Child Brides, Divorce, Autobiography

 

The Review

I am Nujood, Age 10, and Divorced is a true story about a little girl who had enough courage to say no. Nujood Ali was born in Yemen in the countryside. After a family tragedy, she and her family moved to the capital of Yemen where the family barely made ends meet. To save her family from poverty, Nujood’s father sold her to an older man of thirty years who promised not to touch her until a year after she reached puberty. Once Nujood was married, her husband repeatedly abused her both physically and sexually. Two months into her marriage, she returned home briefly for a visit. She ran away to plead her case to the courts, and eventually won a divorce at age 10.

These events occurred in 2008. When I began reading, I was astonished how recent this story is. When I think back to my life in 2008, my biggest concerns were school, friends, and hoping that my crush would ask me to dance. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how horrible it must have been for Nujood. I found myself wondering “would I have been brave enough to do the same thing as Nujood in her circumstances?” Probably not. This is why her story is so incredible.

As far as the story goes, it is an amazing story, and everyone should know about it. With that said, I was a tad angry with how the book was written. The book was coauthored by French journalist, Delphine Minoui . Her voice completely overshadows Nujood’s voice, so much so that I couldn’t help but feel cut off from Nujood’s perspective. While I understand that Nujood couldn’t write the autobiography by herself as she was barely literate at the time when the book was written, I would have preferred some direct quotes from Nujood framed by Minoui’s narration.

Parts of the book sounded as if Minoui was taking advantage of Nujood’s situation. Parts of the story, like Nujood’s flight from home to the court appeared to be dramatized like a scene in a movie. The emotion and fear emanating from Nujood seems to be deafened by Minoui’s desire for action and drama. Although it is true that the book must be interesting enough to appeal to readers, there is no need to add in scenes of action and suspense. The story is so compelling that it could write itself. I also didn’t like how the story was purposely written for a Western audience. Many of the cultural aspects of the novel were explained as if it were Nujood explaining them. While I am sure that Nujood is a clever girl, chances are, during the conception of the autobiography, she did not consider explaining every unfamiliar reference that a Westerner many not understand. Chances are, this was Minoui’s doing. Again, it would have been nice if there was a distinction between Minoui and Nujood.

When I began to consider how I would rate this book, I found that Nujood’s story is definitely worth reading. It provides a lot of insight into the world issue of child brides. However, I wish this book could have been written differently. I wish that Nujood’s voice could have been clearer in the novel rather than being overshadowed by her coauthor. Just to be clear, my final rating is based upon this aspect rather than the story itself. I would recommend this book to those who are interesting in learning more about child brides and those who feel the need to become more knowledgably about world issues.

Final Rating: C

Until Next Time,

-Alice

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