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Archive for the ‘1 Star’ Category

Thank you all for your support and encouragement this past week. I have loved reading and writing and have especially enjoyed your comments. My thoughts have definitely centred around all things literary since I began. This week Levi and I have talked of little else and even had a 10 minute conversation about semi colons, who knew there was so much to say?! I was also struck quite unexpectedly with an overwhelming sense of responsibility to my readers. I began two books, was completely unsatisfied that either were good enough for you, then began a third, still unsatisfied but persuaded by the clock; I determined that any book was better than no book at all and persevered. So here you have it, a book my grandma gave me in one of her ‘spring’ cleans.

Desert Dawn is the second book by Waris Dirie, an internationally recognised model and UN representative who speaks out against female genital mutilation. She grew up in a nomadic family in Somalia Africa, but at 13 ran away to escape an arranged marriage to an older man. Her first book Desert Flower (I haven’t read this book) tells the story of her childhood, escape and rise to fame. This book details her desire to return home to visit her family and the difficult journey she takes to get there.

This book is a testament to the truth that if your life is an interesting true story (preferably one that leads you to fame) you can get published, no matter how badly you write. Aren’t I mean! Poor Waris grew up with no education; in a country ravaged by poverty and corruption; where repression is rampant; good on her for writing a book! But the writing, continuity and depiction of events is often cringe worthy and makes you question why you are going through the pain. One of my favourite lines was ‘I felt like I was travelling in three dimensions – forwards, up and down.’ Isn’t that just classic! Shame on the editor who let that stand.

That major complaint out-of-the-way, I do admire the themes she strives to convey. She tries to paint the picture of displacement; longing for familiarity, family and connection; and the struggles associated with being so fundamentally different from the people around you. The feelings that mere improved conditions don’t erase. I’m always interested to read stories about Africa and its people. While on my mission for the church, I taught a refugee family from the Congo and was fascinated with their ways, generosity, sense of humour and ability to show love. I saw them try to make sense of their new surrounds (opting for sweeping sticks to clean the carpet rather than the vacuum cleaner in the corner!) and the sadness they felt with their family on the other side of the world. I understand what she was trying to achieve in the book because I have seen it first hand. But ultimately she has failed to do this. Instead she has shown the contradictions in her views, poked holes in her cause and given a murky and dull description of people and events.

Despite her good intentions there is little to persuade me to recommend it. Books I have really enjoyed about Somalia and can fully recommend are Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and We did Nothing by Linda Polman.

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