Discrimination & Racism/Women’s Biographies/Adventure Stories & Action
This is effectively an autobiographical novel, an exceptionally candid and affecting one, as the author followed the same dangers, cruelties and life choices as the fictional narrative subject, Susan. It is not an easy read. But it is a book everyone who can read should.
It tells the story of an Iranian woman forced to escape her harsh life in Iran and find sanctuary in Europe. Her choice is brutally simple: a short, cruel, abused life where she is, or escape to safety, or violent death.
Set in 2014, when ISIS became the rampant force of misguided and distorted extreme Islam in the region, it tells of Susan’s unwilling departure from a home where her appalling father brutalised her and her mother, via stops in various cities with different jobs. In these, she was always exploited as a women without power and lived in danger of rape and execution, leading her to risk an escape with people smugglers. The journey with these cruel, selfish, exploiters of misery is the bulk of the story.
This book has been written by a woman for whom English is not her first language, and for whom narrative style is different from that usually expected by readers of English. She nevertheless tells a devastating but engaging tale full of incident, emotion, tension, simple hopes brutally crushed, enduring, if misplaced, faith, and most of all simple humanity.
The nature of the story, and the empathy the author manages to generate through her characters, meant I had to read this book in stages, though the narrative tried to make me read it in one sitting. I was not emotionally up to that.
For those who believe refugees deserve what they daily suffer, for those who see all asylum seekers as grasping economic migrants, for those who harbour racist tendencies, possibly unconsciously, I ask that you read this story. It is told with simple truth and honesty. The book details the most horrendous events in a calm voice that leaves the unspeakable horrors and casual brutality, the daily cruelty, for the reader to experience.
It is also a book exemplifying the extraordinary courage, tenacity, perseverance, charity, and love that characterises the best of humanity. It is a story that will live with me for as long as I witness tales of desperate people escaping death and torture and risking all to find safety for themselves and their children. A vital lesson in what it is to a bad, uncaring, selfish, hypocritical, and brutal human being, and what it is to be a kind, caring, generous, self-sacrificing, courageous, and loving human being. Read it, please.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]