I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

First stop around the world: Yemen.

I didn’t want to leave my family. I didn’t feel prepared. I already missed school painfully. Catching sight of my little sister, Haifa’s sad face during the celebration, I realized with a pang that I would miss her as well. I felt a sudden rush of fear: What if she, too, were condemned to suffer my fate?

I am beginning my trip around the world in the Middle East. This wasn’t planned, I was just eager to read a few of the books I had recently downloaded on my kindle, and at least three happened to be set in the middle east.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced tells the story of Nujood, a nine year old girl who was sold by her father into marriage to a man three times her age. Her new husband raped and abused her and stole her childhood.

Nujood bravely made her way to the courthouse where she demanded a divorce. Her story made international news and Nujood became a star, being featured in Glamour magazine and even gaining the attention of then secretary of state, Hilary Clinton.

The story itself was written by Delphine Minoui, as told to her by Nujood. Not only was Nujood a bit too young to write and entire novel about her harrowing story, but she was also barely literate since her parents pulled her out of school to be married.

The writing itself is a little stiff and disjointed–after all, we have a grown woman trying to write in the voice of a young child. But even so, I didn’t find it too distracting because the story was such an important one to be told. I think it might have read better if Minoui wrote the book as a piece of non-fiction (rather than a memoir) and instead included passages or sections written in Nujood’s voice.

I do have a general rule for myself when reading memoirs: I can’t judge them in the way I would a novel. I have a bit of a pet peeve about people who rate memoirs based on the expectations we set for novels. A memoir is almost a different medium entirely, so we can’t expect the same things. I am willing to overlook issues with style when it comes to memoirs.

Nujood’s story reminded me of the very real and current problem of child marriage throughout the world, but it is especially high in Yemen, and that many children (especially girls) are being denied education. This is something that I shouldn’t forget–but sometimes I need books like this one to serve as a reminder.

I would be remiss to note that, unfortunately, the royalties from the book have not successfully made it to Nujood. She was able to attend school for awhile, but it is believed her father stole quite a bit of her money. Nujood was married again not long after and now has two children. Because of this, I would actually suggest that you borrow this book from your library rather than purchase it.

Next stop: Qatar.


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