Posts Tagged Nujood Ali

BEST OF 2010: NON-FICTION

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman [Spiegel & Grau]
–at turns daunting, authentic, provocative and spellbinding. The best part is that it’s about women from all different backgrounds bonding to endure a miserable situation.

WAR by Sebastian Junger [Twelve]
–Junger brings much needed attention to this ongoing war on terrorism. So little is written about Afghanistan in the press yet it’s a fierce, exhaustive war. Junger also includes and honest assessment about the war in Afghanistan and the attitudes of the troops.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot [Crown]

It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me by Ariel Leve [Harper Perennial]
–Leve is a major pessimist, sets low standards to avoid disappointment, would rather stay in bed than get dressed and made up to go to a party that *might* not be worth her time. She expresses in print what most of us think. She’s observant, sharply critical and savvy. Leve’s irreverent voice and bittersweet outlook mingle in an erudite, esoteric manner.

Half A Life by Darin Strauss [McSweeney’s]
–At 18, Strauss hit a girl while driving and she died. He examines his feelings related to the girl who died as well as the accident and its aftermath. Strauss writes honestly, exquisitely and provides a thorough examination of this profoundly personal experience. Half A Life is a provocative, intense read.

Bitch is the New Black by Helena Andrews [Harper]
–another stand-out memoir by a strong, opinionated, independent woman who has achieved monumental professional success but by society’s standards hasn’t yet hit her stride on the personal front.

FURY by Karen Zailckas [Viking Adult]
–After spending many years binge drinking and writing about it in the best-seller Smashed, Zailckas wanted to examine women’s relationship to anger. In doing so, she realized she had a lot of her own.

A Ticket to the Circusby Norris Church Mailer [Random House]

The Match by Susan Whitman Helfgot [Simon & Schuster]
–Reinforcing the importance of organ donation through the story of two men who never meet but whose lives intersect in a remarkable manner, The Match is a vastly informative and engulfing read.

CLEOPATRA by Stacy Schiff [Little, Brown]

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book review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced


Title: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Author: Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
ISBN: 978-0307589675
Pages: 192
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 2, 2010)
Category: memoir, women’s issues
Review source: publisher
Rating: B+

My mother never said a thing. She seemed sad, but resigned. After all, she had wed through an arranged marriage, like most Yemeni women, so she was in a good position to know that in our country it’s the men who give the orders, and the women who follow them. For her to defend me was a waste of time.

Everyone heard the outrageous news story about the 10-year-old girl in Yemen granted a divorce. How could someone so young have even been married? This concept confused and angered Westerners, where there are laws against such disgusting behavior. Fortunately, many women and young girls in the Middle East also found solace and inspiration in the courage of Nujood Ali.

My life was taking a new turn in this world of grown-ups, where dreams no longer had a place, faces became masks, and no one seemed to care about me.

It hurt me to be talked to that way, with such contempt, and he made fun of me in front of others. I lived in permanent fear of more slaps and blows. Occasionally he even used his fists. Every day, fresh bruises on my back, new wounds on my arms. And that burning in my belly. I felt dirty everywhere.

In I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Ali provides an unflinching, honest account of her horrific ordeal at the hands of a man three times her age. Her memoir sheds much needed light on archaic practices and the abuse of young girls and women around the world. Her father basically sells Nujood to this man without her knowledge or consent. He repeatedly rapes her and beats her. The thought is just disgusting and unimaginable though it happens throughout the world every day. Girls may not get married at age 10 in the United States and Western countries, but they are certainly sexually abused and enslaved by men. Ali is a typical girl growing up in a country that I associate with terrorism and poverty. She loves drawing with colored pencils, arithmetic and learning Arabic. Ali has dreams of becoming a lawyer just like her hero Shada, the woman who helped her escape the matrimonial bonds and nightmare into which men thrust her. Ali is a brave little girl who, despite her lack of education, managed to outwit her awful husband and beat the system. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced provides a devastating and hopeful message that little girls in Yemen and other conservative Middle Eastern countries who find themselves in arranged marriages before they even hit puberty sometimes find someone who will listen to them. Sometimes someone will take notice of the injustice. The unfortunate truth is that most of these little girls cannot read I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.

Yemen facts
[sources: CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy of the Republic of Yemen web site, BBC]

–the median age of women in Yemen is 17
–only 30% of females age 15 and over can read and write [50% total population, 70% males]
–45% live below poverty line
–Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East
–the custom of chewing the narcotic plant khat in the afternoons is still widely observed
–main exports of Yemen: Crude oil, cotton, coffee, fish
–the terrorist threat level in Yemen remains high and Americans and foreigners are in constant danger
— Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula established itself in Yemen after it was forced out of Saudi Arabia
— on October 12, 2000 a terrorist group attacked the U. S. S. Cole in the port of Aden. The group used a boat loaded with explosives, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 28 others
— on September 17, 2008, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a [Yemen capitol]
–Yemen is the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to give women the right to vote, have women as Members of Parliament and to appoint a woman as Minister for Human Rights

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