Showing you an intimately real look at how an individual Iraqi-Kurdish woman, Joanna, suffered from and fought against Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.
If you read the book, you wouldn’t believe it’s actually a true story! It’s so wonderful to come across a journalistic-style book and yet written with such great literature. All these details can cause your empathy to grow for war-victims. Telling “the dramatic true story of a young woman caught up with Saddam Hussein’s poison gas attacks on Kurdish people”. Although I thought that Saddam Hussein’s attacks were mainly on Kurdish freedom-fighters and their families, but I see I need to brush up on Iraqi history.
Joanna tells about her life from way back when she was five. Here is a para of her telling of the division created by Arabs among the Kurds and about her feisty spirit-
To be friendly, Mother offered the Arab children some of our date cookies. But their parents reacted as though the cookies were poisoned. They yanked on the hands of their children, telling Mother a curt, “La! La!” meaning “No! No!”
My surprised Mother fell back against her seat.
I was shocked by their rudeness, despite the fact I was old enough to understand a fact of life: most Iraqi Arabs hated Kurds. Mother quickly recovered and offered her own children a few of the sweets. I felt so insulted by the strangers’ reaction that I took enormous pleasure in munching on the cookies, loudly announcing to everyone how delicious they were. I felt vindicated when I saw the Arab kids stare reproachfully at their parents.
The problem I had with the book was that I wanted a very ‘profound’ ending to finish with the book. But the last chapter seemed to ‘move faster’. There are books that have endings that are so forced that it ‘fidgets’ to a predictable conclusion. And though this book didn’t have a fast ending, I would’ve loved it more if it slowed down there.
In the beginning, there were such beautiful, ‘slow’ descriptions. These two paras are among of my favorite paras from the books-
“Salt! Salt!”Dressed in a frayed gray shirt and worn brown trousers, he was a dark-skinned, craggy-faced man with arched eyebrows. A knotted rope of red and blue wool was looped from his arm around the long neck of a small camel. I instantly loved that camel, with her blond wavy coat and bowed lips curled into a smile……
“Salt! Salt” the hawker yelled as he puffed on a cigarette that hung from the side of his mouth. He raised his eyes to meet mine,plucking the cigarette out of his mouth as a hopeful smile crossed his face. His eyes widened and his head bobbed with anticipation.I shook my head no and waved him off, aware that Mother still had an unopened bag of his salt in the kitchen.
To be able to beautifully and SLOWLY elaborate mundane activities, scenes, etc. And while I know that all books have to be a little quick at the end because….all great books have to come to an end at some point (NO!), I would enjoy it much more if the ending got me as caught up as the rest of the book. I crave for ‘slow’!
Joanna talks about how she would have daily ‘practice runs’ taking her emergency bag and running to the garden-wall in case something happened to them at home- although her mother and sisters thought it was funny- it did come to use to her at one time (And that one instance……is in the book!)
When bits of the chemical-gas (that Saddam would attack the villagers with) would get in someone’s eyes, the eyes burn and starts oozing a certain liquid. A lot of times it can turn you blind. Here Joanna describes a refugee child-
Almost every woman was holding a child.They all bore visible wounds. A fuzzy toddler continually rubbed her eyes, which were oozing thick mucus.
Here she describes one freedom-fighter who could’ve settled abroad and study for colledge, but instead stayed in the country to fight:
…postphoning marriage and children. At the age of thirty, when most men have settled in a career, he was a poor man, without a home and without a job, each meal possibly his last….
It’s also surprising to think how much Joanna remembers! And how descriptively she talks about the events from her past, all the mundane details come to alive in their details that make you relate to her.It’s hard to think that someone said so much from memory alone, though. But I think Joanna might be a really, really talented ISFJ because of the insane amount of insignificant (yet beautifully elaborated) information she remembers. Her memory is astonishing.I just doubted her a little because I have the memory of a gold-fish.
I just doubted her a little because I have the memory of a gold-fish.
I hope you enjoyed this book-review! This is my second book review (the first is HERE). Let me know if you want to see more book-reviews 🙂