Friday, February 20, 2009

Between Two Worlds

I'm sitting in the Barcelona airport with about 15 minutes of WIFI time and about the same battery life. After going so long without posting, it's always surprising when inspiration is going to hit.

This book sat on my nightstand for quite some time. Doug read it and wasn’t enamoured with it but once again, I decided to take his opinion with a grain of salt and soldier on to read it. One day I will learn to trust his judgment on stuff I will like and won’t like.

I don’t want to sound insensitive. The first (and largest) part of the book is the story of Zainab Salbi who was growing up in pre-Hussein Iraq to a loving, well-to-do family only to see her family get dragged into the brutal world of Hussein’s sadistically cruel and insane rule. There is no doubt this life was absolutely harrowing. He was truly a monster and terrifying and I believe no one but the people who had to live it, truly understands the fear he instilled in everyone around him. However, in my mind, this section was too long and it seemed to be nothing more than a series of anecdotes, stories and memories tied together chronologically and I was tired of it after a while.

To me, the most interesting part of her story was the birth and growth of her not-for-profit foundation helping women who have been the subject of systematic rape and terror in other war torn countries. I wanted more on how she developed the foundation, gained support, built the foundation from the ground up. The other part of the book that could have also been more interesting was her reconciliation with her mother. In the first half, she spoke of her mother with no less than loving reverence so the fact that she had a bubbling anger and growing rift, honestly came as somewhat of a surprise.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Salbi. She has clearly lived a life that I cannot even begin to understand or relate to, and I am honestly so thankful for that. I am happy that she survived it and could share it, and I hope she tries to write again about her foundation and maybe get a better editor to help pull the story together.

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam
Zainab Salbi