REVIEW: Tale of a Boon's Wife, Fartumo Kusow

Friday, 17 November 2017

A young Somali woman defies convention and clan to marry the man she loves, but must face the consequences. Despite her family’s threat to disown her, Idil, a young Somali woman, rejects her high Bliss status to marry Sidow, a poor Boon man. Her decision transforms her life, forcing her to face harsh and sometimes even deadly consequences for her defiance of a strict tribal hierarchy. 

The Tale of a Boon’s Wife is one of the most poignant and infuriatingly heartbreaking novels that I think I have ever read and through it, I have gotten my first real glimpse into the horrifying realities of the Somalian Civil War (if anyone has any non-fiction recommendations please, please, please let me know as I would love to read further). 
The narration follows Idil through everything - from the uneasy innocence and naivety of childhood, to risking everything to enter a marriage that society looks down on. She is a strong and resilient character, one who goes through such heartbreak and yet, despite all of the dangers around her, will never let anyone stop her from doing something that she believes in. I love her and I especially love her relationship with Sidow, and the contrast between her family never allowing her answers to her questions and him never hesitating to tell her what she wants to know. Theirs is a blissful relationship in a truly miserable world.
The country in which they live slowly, oh so slowly, turns into one fraught with danger, poverty and desperation as the government collapses and people become merciless as a result of their agony - for money, for housing, for anything that resembles their lives before the start of the war. Their very souls are tested and it really makes you question whether or not you’d have the strength to make the same decisions.
But aside from the harsh and callous realities of the civil unrest, Idil remains restrained by a far more pervasive structure: patriarchal society, that is present in her early years before the political turmoils and despite the collapse of nearly every part of the society, does not fall with it. The women in the novel are judged and suppressed over and over again by how society expects them to act because of their gender - from women being the sole cause of an affair, to judgement against Idil for how long it takes her to get pregnant and carry a baby to term.
This book is one that I am certain that I will not forget for a very long time for these reasons and many, many more. And it is a reminder to me of the horrors happening in the world, ones that I am often shielded away from by the country that I live in, and even though I am sometimes ignorant enough to believe that the world we live in is finally one in which all people can live each day without fear of violence, that is not the case.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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