I don’t often read non-fiction, but like I am Malala, I am Nujood , Age 10 and Divorced seemed too compelling to turn down, plus it isn’t a long book, just 188 pages even with the epilogue, reading group guide, notes and acknowledgements. Written on a 6.2 reading level, the story of this young girl, is not well developed. Her plight is powerful, but the telling of her story is awkward, unrelatable and in no way does her justice. I never felt a connection to Nujood, naturally on the premise I was cheering her on, but I would have cheered anyone in her position on. I don’t feel like I know her, or know her family, or really any characters in the book. It seems that Delphine Minoui tried to write the book as if she were Nujood, a ten year old with minimal education, instead of finding away to balance Nujood’s voice and story, while adding the detail and back story to give the reader a connection and understanding to what and why this was allowed to occur.
Nujood is a Yemeni girl from the small mountainous village of Khardji, after scandal rocks the sister just older than Nujood, there are too many kids that the order and ages of them all is a mental workout for her mother, the family leaves everything and moves to the city of Sana’a. Poor and with little hope, Nujood is given/sold to a man three times her age. After months of abuse she sneaks away and finds a judge at a court house where she finds courage and her voice to proclaim, “I want a divorce.” From there she must recount her story to both lawyers, journalists, and anyone that can help her as she works to break a long tradition of girls marrying young and save herself.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I like that something that is perhaps a societal norm in Yemen was made public and that we can hopefully now do something to help these young girls. I don’t think it would work as a book club book or a novel study in a middle school setting as the details of rape and drug use are present. They are not explicit, but I think that sharing excerpts from the book would be sufficient in explaining why this is such a tragedy and needs to be stopped. The characters are all Muslim with various levels of belief and practice. While sad and heartbreaking, her story is hopeful at the end.
Details of her rape, her sister’s affair is mentioned, and some minor drug use is common amongst the men.