There are countless ways a book can leave its print on reader’s conscience, but a well-told real story is all the more haunting and dreadful, as the factor of authenticity adds weight to the events. It was the cold, fearless look of the Arabic woman on the cover that sent chills down my spine and drew me to read Farida’s story.
With the candour and emotions of a teenage soul, Farida recalls the mundane life in the small community of Kocho, a Yazidi village in Iraq. The peaceful existence of its inhabitants is abruptly and irreversibly shaken in the summer of 2014, when ISIS warriors invade the area, kill all men and kidnap the women and children.a
The story abounds in action and suspense, as Farida is taken as prisoner, sold for multiple times as a slave, abused and forced to convert to a different religion. Though cruel and harrowing, the sufferings of the young girl act as an incentive in her rebellion against the soldiers and against the destiny imposed on her.
With the scrupulousness of a talented strategist, Farida notes every minute aspect of ISIS warriors’ life, daily routine, beliefs, warehouses they live in, excuses they find to misinterpret the Quran. It is an accurate insight from another world, yet contemporary and very close to ours.
Farida masterly explores the depth of human emotions in situations of extreme tension, as she herself is confronted with a palette of contrasting feelings: from anger and frustration to sadness, shame, resignation and even suicidal thoughts. The girl is a genuine model of relentless courage, a fact admitted even by the ISIS soldiers:
“If all Yazidi men had fought like you have, then we wouldn’t have defeated them” (Abdul Hamid)
The exhausting but successful escape from the ISIS military camp does not bring the expected relief in the girl’s existence, because of another emerging conflict: the one between her acceptance of the past events versus the public disdain related to her not being pure and able to marry anymore.
In the end, Farida puts the desire for justice above her feelings of guilt, in order to let the whole world know what is happening and to raise awareness about the other refugees currently isolated between desert and terrorists.
This book was one of the most thought-giving readings I have enjoyed so far. Each chapter opened new questions of morality, drawing a faint line between personal values and the greater good. What would you have done in her place? In a context of horrific battles on religious views, would you surrender and accept a new way of life contrary to your principles, just to put violence to an end? Or would you fight against all odds?
On a regular day, you would find me immersed in a dark gothic novel or an intriguing psychological study. I will always enjoy a heated debate, be it on political, religious or ethical views, just for the sake of argumentation. Sci-fi stories and English classics are both very dear to me, as they have crafted my friendship with literature for as long as I can remember. May it be a vice, an obsession or just a mere interest in books, I am thrilled to share this passion with other fellow readers.