I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (Review)

Book cover for "I Am Nujood" by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui.Title: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

Author: Nujood Ali (with Delphine Minoui)

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 188

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Read a copy at school

From the cover:

I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.

Nujood Ali’s childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband’s hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom – an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married under the legal age. Nujood’s courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has inspired other young girls in the Middle East to challenge their marriages. Hers is an unforgettable story of tragedy, triumph, and courage.

I wanted to like this book more than I did.

Nujood comes across as a very tenacious little girl, demonstrating fantastic bravery in terrifying circumstances. You can feel her pain and understand her desire to flee throughout her story, but that’s about as deep as it gets. Even though Nujood tells about her experience trying to get a divorce, she really only gives a summary of what happened. The reader gets an introduction to the “good guys” (a couple of judges and a lawyer) who get involved on her side, but that’s about it. There’s not much background on them, or even discussion as to why they decided to help her in a cultural and legal system that is very much working against her.

Something that I liked about I Am Nujood was that it was clear throughout that what had happened to Nujood was primarily caused by Yemeni tribal culture and the idea of male honour, instead of being blamed on Islam like the media often does. Nujood’s faith, and that of her family, was woven nicely into the story, including their theological differences that played into the situation her father put them into.

I really would have liked to have seen more detail into how Nujood’s divorce ultimately came about. Also, I would have liked to have seen how exactly she “made it” between running away from her family and the divorce proceedings; she says in the book that she stayed with an uncle for a while, but given that most of her family (possibly including him) was totally against the idea of her ending the marriage, I would really like to have seen how that time went for her.

Having said that, I still think that I Am Nujood was a worthwhile read. It was really interesting to hear about such an important issue straight from the mouth of the person who was affected by it, and to realize that these things really do happen to people, even in today’s world. I hope that stories like this continue to be told, and in much more depth and detail as to the process, so that maybe they can be of use to other people in similar situations in the future.


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