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Review: Desert Flower

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As they say, everyone has one story to write about – their own. But when you have a story like that of Waris Dirie, it will make a book truly worth reading.

Last weekend while I was browsing at the local bookstore, I picked up Desert Flower. Waris Dirie grew up as a nomad in Somalia, until she ran way from home at the age of 14. With no language skills, no formal education and not much of external support, the lady goes on to become a model and then a UN Ambassador. She has been subjected to so many horrors, which would have definitely crushed a lesser human being. How does anyone not feel bitter after being subjected to genital mutilation at the age of five and then having had to survive a few rape attempts?

At every step of the way, she is faced with so many hardships and you often find yourself wondering how in the world would she get out of this one? You find yourself wishing that somehow, she would. And then miraculously, she does. If it were fiction, I would have scoffed at it saying its too far-fetched. But that this is someone’s real life makes it truly exceptional. For many parts of the book, I felt that I was part of a surreal world. After a long time, I felt like this was a book that stretched the boundaries of my imagined world – life in an African desert had definitely been a black box to me.

The book is well written. I loved the simple way in which the story is told. It is in stark contrast to the twists and turns that happens in the story matter. And that the book treats some of the unfortunate, shocking I should say, incidents so matter of factly leaves it to the reader to fill up the emotions – which is such a better way of writing, than to try and direct our feelings.

Despite all the differences that most readers would have with the author, the book has a universal appeal. At the core, it is a story of human determination and grit. A young woman who, with her confidence and perseverance, overcomes the many prejudices, myriad difficulties and outright injustices to find a place of her own in this world and to then strive towards making this world a better place for the rest of us to live in. Now isn’t that who we all really wish we were – whether we are born a Somali nomad or not?

All in a all, a book not to be missed.

Posted in Books on February 17, 2008


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  1. dirie linked to this post on March 7, 2008

    […] him and the spokesman of Hawiye elders Ahmed Dirie Ali were jointly were freed in …allafrica.comReview: Desert Flower As they say, everyone has one story to write about – their own. But when you have a story like that […]



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