Books in Review
by Adrienne Petterson 2004

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Burned Alive - A Victim of the Law of Men
by Souad
Warner Books
ISBN 0-446-53346-7
Published May 2004 - Hardcover - 227 pages - $24.95

Brace yourself, for this is not an easy read, and neither is it a situation most western women can begin to contemplate being in, or even understand.  "Being born a girl was a curse" and "my only brother, treated like the king of the house, went to school, but the girls did not", are the words of Souad, a little girl born "somewhere on the West Bank" in "either 1957 or 1958."  These were the beginnings of a little Arab girl who "was valued less than an animal because I was a girl."  Young girls were married off in order of birth to serve a husband she barely knows.  They were not allowed to go anywhere without a sister or mother, couldn't raise their eyes to look around, got beaten and tied up in the animals' barn as punishment.  Beatings occured on a daily basis.  The parents and four sisters worked on the land but not the brother, he went to school.  To be an unmarried woman is cause for gossip and ridicule, so whatever you do, you're doomed as a woman.  I cannot begin to imagine this way of life in today's world - I pray it has ceased or at least, lessened.  The first 21 pages of Souad's book eloquently tells it like it was and had me crying in pity, shame, and thankfulness.  Later, when she falls in love with a man, gets pregnant, and is set on fire by her brother-in-law, her entire world changes completely.  She is rescued by an aid worker and given a chance at a new life.  She cannot read or write and knows nothing of the outside world.  The burns on her body will be there for life, as will the mental scars.  And they call this the "honor crime" - where's the honor?  No wonder she's "somewhere in Europe" - bless her heart.
Conclusion - Harrowing, disturbing, and I feel so blessed in my own little world.  Thank you, Souad.  A must-read!


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