Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book 76: A Promise to Nadia

“A Promise to Nadia” was the latest book to disappoint me. At least it was a quick read and it did interest me. Too bad I hated the way the book was sold to me, the writing and the feel of the book.

As you can tell if you read my blog, I love to learn about lives behind the veils in the Middle East. That’s because it’s so secretive and can be very provocative while at the same time deep with historical/traditional values. Plus I’m also curious about those who have been trapped and trafficked as a sex slave or slavery in general. So when I saw this book come up as a recommended book and I needed one more book to get free shipping and the great coupon, I thought great.

I will have to say this book failed to live up the advertisement of “a true story of a British slave in the Yemen.” I should have had an issue right there since in the Yemen sounds so awkward. But this story is not about a British slave. It’s about a family’s attempt to extract a daughter from a Yemeni marriage. I’m questioning if there is even a slavery case to be had. Nadia was tricked into marriage to another kid. Marriage isn’t slavery. That’s even if the husband is controlling, manipulative, awful and abusive. You can’t call marriage slavery especially since Yemen does allow women to divorce their husbands (although it puts them at a such a huge disadvantage where most women don’t even consider the option). There can be questions if the marriage itself could be legal given the fact she was so young and tricked into the marriage since everything was arranged by her father without her knowledge. But after so many years of living with her husband,does Nadia want to leave him or is this Zana's fight for Nadia.

Now I’m surprised that Zana Muhsen had a co-writer (Andrew Crofts). Normally a co-writer does a great job of helping hone the language yet at the same time the real person will shine through. Zana definitely shines through and it seems like he was able to get herself to be more introspective and not come across as being too close-minded. The book just didn’t have any sort of honed language and things would jump around. In some ways it seems like he just gave up on trying to get Zana to change her mind since she is rather hard headed.

As I said, I didn’t enjoy the feel of the book. There were times when attitude just got in the way of me really being able to connect with her. I’m not someone who will believe what I’m told. I need collaborating evidence for me to believe things. Often Zana and her family come up short in proving that Nadia is a slave. Yet she’s bitter when people don’t just believe her and her mother in their crusade. She was deeply hurt when a documentary writer didn’t present the dialog she wanted included even though according to Terry Waite (a person who was a Beirut hostage with a high profile in England) thought the dialog that she wanted sounded forced. It was the same way when she’s told that there wasn’t enough evidence in a case against her father.

There is a good chance I may have liked this book better if I actually read Sold first. It seems like the tale I was really seeking was more in Sold but it's fascinating to see how much the family is fighting to get contact with Nadia and trying to get her home.

So I was disappointed in this book all the way around. Although I feel bad for the fact that Zana and her family are kept away from Nadia. I hope they can get a family reunion that won’t be a headache for any of the family members. But the book itself was a disappointed.

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