I Am Nujood, Age 10 & Divorced

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Have you ever sat down to take a shit you shouldn’t have committed yourself to?

That about sums up what was wrong with this book. It was simply written too soon.

Nujood’s story calls attention to a severe and important issue. This is a ten year old girl with a consummated marriage. Obviously against her will with a father who has no idea or care what it’s like to be a 10 year old female being sold to a stranger because her father was down on his luck. The mother is…bummed? That’s the best way to describe the feelings she had as I understood them, but then again I’m not a mother from Yemen who has too many children (dead and alive) and absolutely no control once the ‘man of the house’ has made a decision. I’m going to do my best to assume that bummed is the most she can let herself feel and still be able to cook the meals every day.

Not to make light of the issue, but if you can read the title of the book you can pretty much assume the rest of the story. The girl got her divorce, took her new found fame and went right back to the family that seemingly cared so little about her future. Not really a surprise. She’s 10.

My hypothesis that the book was written entirely too soon is based on the fact that most of the time it’s like a 40 year old schoolmarm is trying to interpret the feelings of a preteen who faces incredibly adult situations and then put them down into words. I live with two 10 year old’s and I will openly admit that I could never regurgitate their feelings in written word and carry the voice of their age. I also wouldn’t try. This is such an incredibly serious subject and reading it in an adults voice that is failing to mimic a child takes so much away from it. When I read Princess by Jean Sasson in high school it was my introduction to the plight of the female side of humanity in the Middle East and while I feel that book is still relevant I also felt that Nujood’s horrific tale would be able to show the teens and young adults of now what their lives aren’t and why they are lucky and why they have to pay attention to the ‘other side’ of the world.
If I were 15 year old me and sat down with this book…I honestly still wouldn’t give two shits. It was dumbed down and sugar coated (as much as it could be) and in the end there was almost a feeling of “Eh…coulda’ been worse…”
I know, it makes me sound like an awful person, but I felt as if a lot of detail was held back from the reader.
There’s this great amount of help that Nujood received in getting her divorce. I’ll admit that I was genuinely surprised at that. There are two judges that immediately take care of Nujood when they hear her story and a women’s rights activist that Nujood worships even though it seems all she does is run around while using a cell phone and praising Nujood. This little girl deserves praise! But if you’re going to write  a fucking book give me some details! Who was this damn woman always on the phone with!? Why were these judges so much more progressive than Nujood’s father or uncles or brothers? Tell me, the silly American with no trust in your country’s ability to truly take care of its own people (since you’re still marrying 10 year old’s off to men three times their age), what processes got you to a point of caring about these types of situations.
Had they waited until Nujood was 16 or 17 and more able to express herself like an adult maybe it would have made more of an impression on me. Though I don’t think I’ll be handing the book over to my nephews either. It’s too adult for them, but entirely too young for me.
This book reminds me of missed opportunities to effect change. Nujood got what she needed, for now, and her story did help other little girls escape their filthy, small, and disgusting husbands, but sadly I’m afraid Nujood will soon be forgotten in the minds of those reading her story now which subsequently means we’ll have to be reminded again someday.
And that 10 year old girl…our ‘reminder’…she is the one this book has failed the most.
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