Book Review: The Girl Who Beat ISIS – Farida Khalaf

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Frida was a normal young girl, a loving family, friends and getting a good education in Northern Iraq. When her father taught her how to use a gun, she never thought she’d need it. Little did she know ISIS were advancing and before long they would take her town as well as her and her friends.

Books are starting to come through of that it is like being held by ISIS and Farida’s story is both heartbreaking and an eye opener into what some of these young women go through. This is not an easy read at all, but it is an important one. There is so much that as a wider world we don’t know, see or understand. It was an honour to read her story.

The one thing that comes through, again and again, is the strength that Frida has throughout the horrors of being held by ISIS. She fights in every way that she can against the men that hold her physically, mentally and in her faith. It’s incredible how despite everything that she goes through she keeps true to her faith no matter what.

I’m not able to say that I enjoyed the book because that seemed wrong. I appreciated it. I felt glad to have to read Fatima’s story and I have to recommend it to everyone. I would have liked to have heard more about her life after she escaped and how she’s doing now, but I understand why she didn’t.

I gave this a well deserved 4 stars ****.

Thank you to the publisher for this ARC.

 

 

Book Review: Room – Emma Donoghue

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“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”

Five year old Jack lives with his mother in ‘Room’, they play there, sleep there and learn there. Jack has never known the outside but his mother plans to make sure that he does soon. After being kidnapped Jack’s mother, simply named ‘Ma’, was imprisoned by her captor and rapist, she becomes pregnant with his child, which is is forced to bring up in the small room. For the first five years of his life, Jack has no idea that there is an outside, thinking that the TV is magical and there is nothing else. Until one day Ma makes a plan to escape, but she needs Jack’s help.

Copies of Room are everywhere right now, after Brie Larson’s oscar win, the film of Room has become a phenomenon. As with many great films though, a beautifully written novel is behind it. I read Donoghue’s novel a few years ago after it was recommended by a friend, I was absolutely blown away by it. The novel is an emotional read, there is no way around it but it also captures a world that hasn’t been considered before, the life of a child raised in captivity. The entire novel is seen through Jack’s eyes, as he tries to understand first that there is a world outside of the four walls he knows and then he has to try and navigate that world.

After their escape, which I read in a blur because I was so worried for little Jack through the whole part of the novel, both Jack and Ma need to adjust to a new world that they don’t know. Although we only see Jack’s perspective, Donoghue has also captured the effect that it has on Ma, after being away for so long. I think it’s more devastating because it is being seen through the eyes of her son, the only person she’s had in her life for years, as she tried to come to terms with what has happened to her and what will happen next. Donoghue is honest in the rehabilitation of these women and the hardships they face trying to go back into a society that has changed so much since they were last a part of it.

The plot mirrors some of the experiences of the big cases that have come out in the media where young women were imprisoned and gave birth to the children of their captors, although little is known of those children. The fact that Donoghue has gone from this angle is not only incredible in its own right, but even more so because she appears to have done such a good job of trying to imagine what must go through these children’s minds. There is also the issue of how these children are received, while Ma clearly loves her son deeply and does not associate him with her captor, it is understandable that others may struggle with the child being ‘the child of the captor’ as well as the victim. All of these subjects are dealt with in a respectful way and appear to have had a lot of research.

Of course I gave this book 5 stars *****. Donoghue is a truly magnificent writer with an inspiring talent. The way that the story is told is absolutely phenomenal, not only do Jack and Ma come to life, we really care for them and their recovery. I would definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the film, because no matter how many awards it has won, it wouldn’t have been possible without Donoghue’s magnificent storytelling.

Chloe Metzger

10 Ways to Survive Freshers Week!

1. Say Hi to all your flatmates! 

This really is a must, you’re going to live with these people all year, like it or lump it. I was lucky and got really nice flat mates (even a nice girl on my course!), if you guys arn’t  that alike remember they on’t have to be your best friends you just have to get on.

2. Go to your induction lectures 

I had 3 9am starts down on my timetable which I was DREADING but after attending one the rest of my 9am lectures were cancelled. Also they give you good tips in these as well as important info, we even got our first task in one lecture. On top of that you get to meet your course mates and lecturers, in a way these are even more important than your flat mates these people will see you for 3 years (first impressions count). 

3. Cry when you need it 

So you’re in a new town/city, a new room and you’ve just spent £9000 on fees I think your entitled to a good cry. Almost everyone I have spoken to has had a break down at one point or another, so don’t bottle it up! I always found that after I made my self go and do something so that I wasn’t wallowing.

4. Phone or Go Home when YOU need it 

So if you’re like me you will more than likely get quite homesick, here’s a secret, you’re allowed to phone home! After talking to other people I know that most of us are phoning home most days (every day in my case) and a few people have had to go home for varied reasons. It’s not the best idea to go back every weekend if you can help it because you do need to make friends but I know a few people at my uni who have done freshers and gone home for the weekend. It’s all up to you and how you feel. 

5. Don’t buy everything on the booklist, ask what you NEED. 

Ask any second or third year they will say the same thing only buy the CORE textbooks. I study English and we read a new book a week for one module (as you can guess that is impossible to budget for) but we get the resources online to read which is helpful. Even our lecturers have said that you don’t need to buy absolutely everything, talk to people about what you really need.

6. Don’t feel pressured into going out every night 

I went out drinking twice in freshers week and that was definitely enough. There is a big pressure to go out and be wild every night, coming from some of my friends who did it, it’s boring. The problem with freshers is that absolutely everyone thinks they need to be out every night meaning the clubs and bars are rammed. If, like me, you are not that into the club scene then just do something else until it calms down. go to a few flat parties for an hour or two and show your face then go do something else you don’t need to be wasted to be a good fresher! 

7. Learn who you are

This kind of ties in with what I said above, learn who you are and what you want to do. If you don’t want to do something then say no! It’s all up to you now, try and be comfortable in your own skin (I know how hard this can be trust me).

8. Get to know where you live! 

Take the wrong bus, walk the wrong way all these little mishaps allow you to get to know where you live and where things are! 

9.Don’t spend your Student Loan in the first week

I thought it was obvious but apparently not. I know people who went full out shopping the day the loan came in…let’s see how tasty those shoes are at Christmas…

10. Enjoy yourself! 

It’s stressful and new and scary but once that bit calms down have fun learning about yourself 🙂