Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

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

Paperback, 2010, 188 pages. Library copy.

This is the story of a girl in Yemen named Nujood. Her father married her off at age nine to a man three times her age. It tells about her short-lived, frightening marriage, and the successful divorce with the help of the courts and a lawyer who didn't charge her anything.

It's a very inspiring story, and I really felt for Nujood. She's a brave girl, and I'm really glad that her story is shedding some light on this issue. Of course, I wish she'd never had to go through that, but her courage is helping other girls.

It's horrible that child marriage happens all over the world, and laws aren't enough to deter people from it. There's a lot behind it, including cultural customs and sometimes what the family thinks is the girl's best welfare. Nujood's father claimed he wanted to protect her from some of the things her older sisters had gone through, and the men agreed the husband wouldn't touch her before she hit puberty, but that wasn't upheld. In the end, her father and brothers were more angry with Nujood for bringing shame on their family than glad she was getting out of that relationship. I don't want to judge them too harshly - I'm glad they didn't react to Nujood with violence.

The writing wasn't stellar, and I don't know who the "blame" goes to. I'm assuming Nujood told her story to Delphine Minoui, who wrote the original manuscript in French. Perhaps it was the translator. The narrative kept using cliches like "flying off the handle" and "on the spot" and others. Since it was a first person narrative, it took me out of Nujood's voice, since I'm sure she wouldn't say things like that in Arabic. There was also a lot of weird tense changes. It didn't get in the way of the story, though, which was very inspiring and also heartbreaking.

A thing I can learn from this book: Stay away from cliches. They're overused, and there is a better way to get across what you're trying to say.

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