Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Real Heroine

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
by Nujood Ali & Delphine Minoui

As a new initiative this year, my YA book club has decided to institute several themed months, including non-fiction, the first of our themes. I Am Nujood narrowly defeated Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (which I hope to read on my own), although it isn't generally marketed as YA. I'm assuming that the book is marketed toward adults due to its subject matter, but with its young protagonist and simple writing, the book is certainly accessible to younger readers, as well.

As stated in the title itself, the book concerns the plight of ten year old Nujood, a Yemeni girl forced into an arranged marriage with a man in his thirties. In Yemen, it is not uncommon for rural people to arrange such marriages, though the families of girls in such marriages typically stipulate that the girl will remain untouched until she reaches puberty. Of course, there is no guarantee that such requirements will be adhered to by the groom, and, in the case of Nujood, it was not. After being forced to have sexual relations with her husband, who also physically abused her, Nujood decides to file for divorce, secretly going to the courthouse while visiting her parents in the capital.

What follows is a whirlwind of events, all of which are barely described, perhaps simply because Nujood herself did not understand their complexity. This true story has an almost Hollywood ending, with Nujood not only being granted her divorce, but sky-rocketing in popularity all over the world, earning sponsorships and securing her family's future.

Although this was a truly amazing and inspiring story, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I had mistakenly believed that this was going to be Nujood's own writing about the subject, rather than the writing of a third-party. As such, I view the work with a bit of credulity, as one cannot know how much of the work is coloured by Ms. Minoui's own perspective. I would certainly be interested in reading Nujood's perspective at a later date, and I'd like to follow her journey into adulthood.

Grade: B

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