Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
by Nujood Ali

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced / 978-0-307-58967-5

Heart-rending, this swift novel covers the young life of Nujood Ali, as she is pressed into marriage at a heart-breakingly young age and her new husband makes (and immediately breaks) the traditional-yet-meaningless vow that he will not consummate the wedding until she is old enough.

Although I am familiar with many biographies of women hurt and abused at an early age (only recently I read "Escape" and "Stolen Innocence"), I was hesitant to read this novel, if only because I was afraid to face the hurt and pain inflicted on this sweet and incredibly young girl. I knew this was something that I had to read, however, and I was thrilled to see that Nujood has done the impossible - she has told her sad and horrifying tale in such a way that hope is able to shine through every facet of her tale.

"I am Nujood" opens with this extraordinary young woman on the steps of the courthouse, and I was surprised to tears of gratitude when the judges promise, immediately and without reservation, to do whatever they can in order to help her. From there, it is a long struggle to Nujood's freedom - both for her lawyer and judges, who must work through the various legal technicalities, and for the reader, who is introduced to the backstory of abuse behind all this - but the fact that the strangers around her care for Nujood, and work diligently, intelligently, and tirelessly to protect her, all this human goodness makes the ugly story of Nujood's abuse slightly more bearable, because the reader can hold on to the knowledge that, somehow, everything will be alright in the end.

The epilogue for this extraordinary book states that, "The royalties from Nujood's book...have already begun helping finance the girls' schooling and contributing to the support of the family, paying for food, rent, school supplied, and clothing for the children. Later, the money will help Nujood pursue her desire to become a lawyer and to establish a foundation to assist young girls in difficulties." So often I read stories of victimized young women and wonder what, if anything, I can do to help. I am humbled and grateful that at least in this one small way - by purchasing this phenomenal, touching story of a young girl's bravery - I can help a tiny bit.

~ Ana Mardoll

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