About one month ago, my Girl Scout troop and I attended a screening of the international phenomenon Girl Rising, following the stories of nine girls from all around the world about their struggles to go to school. The movie was inspiring, and so we decided to read Nujood Ali’s true story about her bravery to escape her husband and defy the customs of her people to dive deeper into the topic of girls’ rights. At first I was hesitant to read this book because I was afraid of what she would describe. However, after finishing the book, I can say that this book took the movie to another level, and it truly is an amazing read.
The story starts when Nujood is nine, and she spends the first couple chapters describing her family, community, and daily life. Then she painfully describes the day she found out she was getting married to a complete stranger. She says that her mother never spoke out against the marriage, because her mother was one of the many Yemeni women who followed tradition and orders. Nujood tells of her hopes and dreams to one day marry a sweet and nice man and live happily ever after, and how those dreams were shattered when she met and came to understand her new husband. She tells of her wedding day, and being covered with the black niqab, since married women must cover themselves whenever they leave the house. She also talks about the horrible journey from her home with her strange husband to his home far away from her family. She tells of how her husband abused her and dishonored her family’s request to respect her. Nujood really thought there was no escape, until with the help of her bravery and courage, she made it to a courthouse where she demanded a divorce.
This book will fill you with such pride and contempt at the same time. Pride in Nujood for persevering, despite all the odds. Contempt for the people who ignored, or pretended they couldn’t hear. My least favorite part of the book was, of course, the abuse. However, I knew that this was a true story, and that is an essential part of her argument, so I read it with that thought in the back of my mind. My favorite part of the book is after Nujood is granted the divorce, and she goes back with her lawyer, who she respects and loves dearly, to her office. There, all of the women working threw her a “divorce party.” When they decide they will sing Happy Birthday, and Nujood confesses she doesn’t know when her birth date is, Shada, the lawyer, exclaims that from now on, that day will be her birthday.
This book is truly the most inspiring story I have ever heard. I have deep admiration for Nujood and all the other girls who have the same courage as Nujood to defy their fates. I definitely recommend this book to teens and adults because it does have some adult topics, themes, and graphics. Nujood is a very brave girl, and her story deserves to be shared and cherished.
-Kelsey H., 10th grade