Lately it seems that books have been finding me rather than vice versa. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui, and Linda Coverdale (Translator) was handed to me by a friend to give to another friend. When the pass off was delayed, I decided to read it myself. I am glad did.
In one way this is an easy book to read. It is face-paced and short, so that as an adult reader I finished it in a single sitting.
As for content, however, it is difficult to read. The experiences this child went through are atrocious. It is hard to even fathom what her life has been like. For those of you who haven’t heard about this book, Nujood was basically sold by her poor family to a man as his wife when she was only a child of nine or ten (her true age is up to question because births are not recorded in Yemen). Although the man says that he will not touch her until puberty, he immediately and repeatedly rapes her once he takes her home to his village. Eventually she persuades her husband to let her visit her family. Once there, she runs away to throw herself on the mercy of the court. As you can tell from the title, she is granted a divorce. The story jumps around a bit, as any story that is being recounted orally will do.
I am Nujood is perfect for book clubs. After reading you will want to talk about it. There is much to be shared and processed. For example:
Question: Is this an adult book or young adult book?
Why it might be controversial: The story has disturbing elements, as a young girl is brutally raped.
My take: Some people are treating this as a young adult book. For example, here is a blog post that lists it as young adult, but then recommends it for younger children in the comments. It was nominated in the middle grade to young adult nonfiction category for Cybils, but was found to be not eligible (the reason was not given). I would say my tween son would not have the interest or emotional maturity to read it, but mature teenagers might find it compelling.
Question: Is this book truly Nujood’s voice?
Why this is controversial: Because Nujood has had very little education, her story is told by a journalist. The journalist’s version has been translated into English. There’s potential that Nujood’s story has been molded by adults with an agenda.
My take: There are elements of this story that ring true, such as the fact the events are not told in a completely linear, chronological way. Plus, Nujood has been interviewed by many other journalists and her story told widely in the newspapers.
There are many, many other questions to be asked about this story. If you are looking for a book that is sure to generate lively discussion, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced definitely fits the bill.
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 2, 2010)
2 Replies to “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced”
Hi Roberta, thank you for posting this review. I think this is one for the 8th grade classroom.
Long Way Home by Ishmael Beah was also controversial in terms of its veracity. My take is that many autobiographies are told by somewhat unreliable narrators. Look at Billie Holiday’s, James Frey’s. Zsa Zsa Gabor. She claimed to have been deflowered by Kemal Ataturk. Do we believe this? Maybe.
Nujood’s story is, in my mind, close enough to the truth, you know? I do not care whether all of it happened to her or not – all of it happened to someone, and we should care about those someones, and if Nujood’s book brings these deplorable violations of young girls to the world’s attention, then Nujood is doing everyone a favor.
Still, it adds another layer to what is sure to be an amazing classroom discussion. Thanks again, I will look for this one!
I’m sure it will lead you in directions you never imagined.