The title of the book says it all. This short book follows Nujood Ali's journey from being married off as a child, and her fight to be awarded a divorce through the court system in Yemen.
Nujood's extraordinary tale begins in a small village, where her life is modest and happy. Her family is forced to move to Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, following a dispute in the village. Even in the polluted city, living in poverty, Nujood's childhood is still peppered with joy. Nujood's exact age is unknown, estimated only by her mother's deductions of her many children's birth order. However, she is around ten years old when she receives the news that she is to be married to a much older man, as organised by her father. She is taken back to the isolated village of her childhood, from which there seems to be no escape. The book does not shy away from the horrific details of her marriage. Thankfully, the reader is aware that Nujood was successful in obtaining a divorce just two months after her forced marriage.
The book seems to be suited to Western sensibilities. Nujood idolises her lawyer, who wears lipstick and seems to be the very definition of empowered. Nujood talks about her own ambition to study hard and one day be a lawyer too. It appears that the road to liberation for Nujood is one of following the American Dream. "If I work hard, I'll get there," she writes.
The style of writing detracts from the book. Seeing as Nujood has limited literacy, one wonders how much of the book was based on her input. It reads as if the ghostwriter, Delphine Minoui, has taken far too much liberty with the writing. It appears to be written by an adult attempting to emulate the style of a child. Perhaps the book is also hampered by being a translation from the original French.
One wonders what has happened to Nujood in the years since she obtained her divorce. Today, she would be around seventeen years old. Yet there is a deficit of updated information on her life now. A newspaper article from last year does not paint a promising picture, as she had to withdraw from school and her father squandered the money from the book.
Looking past the poor writing,I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced is an important book. Even the most hardened person will cry when reading about the struggles Nujood has faced. It is definitely worth reading, but perhaps not more than once.