With the assistance of Middle East journalist Minoui, Ali tells the disturbing story of her marriage and subsequent divorce—all by the age of ten.
The narrative will be shocking to many Westerners—a young Yemeni girl from a poor family, married off at the age of ten to a man three times her age. Even though the marriage contract stipulated that the husband not consummate the marriage until Ali had reached puberty, the young girl was repeatedly raped and beaten. Steadfastly refusing to accept her horrible fate, a fate that many others had suffered before her, Ali took advantage of a visit to her family in the city to bring her situation before a judge. It’s illegal in Yemen to marry off a child before the age of 15, but the young girl still faced an uphill battle, defying not just her husband and father but her society. The unimaginably awful story is told in the voice of the girl, simply and clearly. To read of such distressing events described with the language and understanding of a ten-year-old heightens the impact of the story, but some readers will notice the lack of perspective, since the storyteller is not yet old enough to have it. However, this does nothing to undermine the extraordinary bravery of such a young child in the face of exceedingly adult circumstances.
Despite the stylistic simplicity, this memoir will move readers.