Monday, June 16, 2008

book review: the story of my life

A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly ran a feature "So You Want to Write a Memoir?"
It details the current market glut of memoirs under the premise, if you actually want to write your own, check this list first to make sure it hasn't already been done. I am a huge fan of the memoir, as well as the similar autobiographical novel. I decided to find my inner A.J. Jacobs and read every memoir on the list. I didn't want to do it topically, as I figured some sections would be disastrously depressing. Instead, I methodically typed each book into a list alphabetically by author. The first one available at my library was Farah Ahmedi's The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky.

Ahmedi's story is riveting, unfortunately her writing is not. Ahmedi was a non-native English speaker and high school student when she wrote her story, and it shows. It reads like a young adult level book, and it's certainly intriguing. Ahmedi grew up in war-torn Afghanistan, and she stepped on a land mine as a child. After receiving treatment for several months in Germany, she returned to the seemingly foreign customs of her native land. She faced numerous hardships as the Taliban began ruling Afghanistan, and she and her mother fled first to Pakistan, then to the United States.

Her story was riveting, and I enjoyed reading most of the book. For me, the most depressing part was what was left unsaid. After she and her mother came to the U.S. as refugees, the organization that brought them provided support for three months. Clearly it was not enough for two non-English speaking women with medical problems. If not for one volunteer who seems to take care of Farah and her mother as a full-time job out of the goodness of her heart and wallet, this story never would have been written. Ahmedi's outlook would have been bleak. How many refugees aren't fortunate enough to find someone to assist them with life?

It's certainly an interesting story of a life far different than I can imagine, but it's not well written, and it's not terribly introspective or deep.

Rating: 2 stars (liked it)

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