Saturday, July 25, 2020

Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui6818019
Nujood Ali's childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband's hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom—an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married under the legal age. Nujood's courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has inspired other young girls in the Middle East to challenge their marriages. Hers is an unforgettable story of tragedy, triumph, and courage.

My thoughts: "To guarantee a happy marriage, marry a nine-year-old girl," an old tribal saying. I can't begin to comprehend how marrying extremely young children is okay in some people's eyes. The title alone of this book caused me anger and I simply had to know how this poor girl was able to get a divorce. Reading this book caused many emotions within me. 

I highly admired Nujood. She was either 9 or 10 (she was not sure how old she really was) when her father agreed to marry Nujood to a man in his 30s. Nujood was so young that she had no idea what marriage meant and only agreed because her father said so. Her older sister pleaded for Nujood's behalf saying that she was too young. And what was the father's response? " 'Too young? When the prophet Mohammad wed Aisha, she was only nine years old,' replied Aba." What?! First of all, I had no idea about the controversy with the prophet's marriage to Aisha, and secondly, Nujood's father used this as an excuse for his actions? It was soon revealed that he married Nujood off because it was "one less mouth" to feed. 

Though she agreed at first because she was taught to never say "no" to the men in her family, Nujood quickly came into the realization that her marriage was wrong. The details of the marriage night and the treatment of her husband and in-laws made my blood boil. Nujood knew that she had to get away from her nightmare. She pleaded with her family and followed the advise from her father's second wife to find freedom. People said that Nujood was an "extraordinary girl," and I have to agree. She was illiterate and was too young to understand about legal matters, but it did not stop her. I admired her determination and her passion in demanding for her divorce after two months of marriage. The fact that she took immediate action was quite inspirational. 

The book was written with simple language. This made sense since Nujood was young, illiterate, and she verbally dictated to Delphine Minoui. I worried at first that Delphine was going to put too much of her thoughts and feelings into the book that would overpower Nujood's voice. With the difference in writing styles in the afterward by Delphine, I was reassured that much of the book WAS told by Nujood. Though this was a simply told story, it was still very powerful. I rate it:

I wanted to know what happened to Nujood. I found out that she was not able to continue her education as she hoped after the divorce. Her father used the royalties from the book publication to buy himself two more wives and pressured Nujood to demand more money from the book's proceeds. The father was given $1,000 a month to help with Nujood's education. Per Nujood, she had not seen much of that money. Along with buying the two wives, the father has also bought a house and kicked Nujood out.  The father also married off Nujood's little sister to a man twice her age. Nujood remarried at the age of 14 and ended up having two children. She changed her name in 2015 from Nujood, which means "hidden," to Nojoom, which means "stars in the sky." I could not find any other information since then. 


  1. I've seen this book title in the past and read the back cover to learn more about it at the time... I decided not read it at the time as I just couldn't stomach the topic.

    Around the time I learned about 'I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced', I'd read a couple of books about young girls being sold unknowingly into the sex trade industry by their poor parents who thought their daughters would be working as domestics for rich people... These stories were rough, so I just couldn't read another book about a young girl being forced to marrying at such a young age to a man three times her age and then being abused.

    1. I completely understand. It is a very tough topic; it is a topic I don't take lightly and I could only read about it on occasion. What prompted me to read this book was that it said "divorce." It's very rare for women in the Middle East to get a divorce, so I really wanted to learn how this young girl did it.

    2. I agree that it seems rare or women in the Middle East to get a divorce.