by Nicole Sprinkle, The Crown Publishing Group
I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced is a very special little book—as the title certainly alludes. Forced by her father to marry a man three times her senior at an age far below the legal one, this brave young Yemeni girl fled her new “home” with just a few coins in her pocket, and headed to the courthouse in the capital. Her mission: to petition for a divorce. With the help of a trailblazing female lawyer, she won—and her extraordinary case has raised awareness throughout the Middle East about antiquated customs and even helped change the law.
Her story is perfect for high school reading on so many levels. It’s written by Nujood herself—her voice is one of youth that teens will easily relate to. It’s also a book that introduces important and timely cultural and political issues in an accessible way. Furthermore, it is an inspiration to students who are interested in political activism, law, journalism, and women’s studies—especially considering that Nujood is passionate about becoming a lawyer, so that she may defend other young girls who have experienced what she has.
It’s no surprise that Nujood won Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year award in 2008 along with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, that the book is an international best seller, or that Nicholas Kristof interviewed Nujood for his popular New York Times blog when the book was recently published in the United States. It is simply a story unlike any other. It is also one that will encourage lively dialogue in the classroom and help high school teachers introduce multicultural issues and current events in an engaging way. The book features a reading group guide to facilitate discussion, and the Q & A below, written by the French coauthor (a famous international journalist), is a riveting, behind-the-scenes look into Nujood’s world, the writing of the book, and how her experience has shaped her life and the lives of so many other young girls like her.