Saturday, January 9, 2016

I Am Nujood

So I finished my very first book.

8) A memoir, biography, or autobiography of someone who is still alive:

This story is told from the point of view of Nujood, but the book was actually written by Delphine Minoui and the story was told through a translator. While the subject matter is interesting, a child bride in Yemen who has the courage to seek a divorce from her abusive older husband, and although Ms. Minoui clearly did her best to keep the perspective as childlike as possible, the book does not read like a child could have written it and that makes it a little disorienting.

On the whole I did learn some things about Yemeni culture. The juxtaposition of rural versus urban culture was very interesting and also horrifying from a Western perspective. The feminist in me was definitely horrified at the idea that women have almost no rights in Yemeni culture, everything has to go through a male relative. Fathers negotiate marriage contracts and the daughters have no say in the matter. Women are forced to marry their rapists to avoid dishonor to the family and adultery is punishable by death (for both parties at least).

The book on the whole is also depressing in the fact that although Yemen finally passed a law in 2009 making the minimum marriage age 17, it was overturned because it was contrary to Islamic law (the Prophet Mohammed apparently married a 9-year-old, which is often cited in the book as the path to a happy life). In 2014 a proposal for a new constitution was made, making the minimum marriage age 18 for both genders, but I can find no evidence that this constitution has been put into place or this provision enforced.

On the whole, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read more about what child brides go through, wants to learn about Yemeni culture, or otherwise wants to be severely depressed at the modern world. Unless you are willing to read it with your child and explain sex, rape, and various other "advanced" topics to your child, I would not recommend it as a book for children.

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