I read, and did not read, this book. I whistled through a lot of it. I wanted to read about her transformation. Large segments of the book are about family life. But the rest, while still over long for my taste, was worth the price. So I did get to the end. This is a long read… more like 450 pages in a more leaded/slightly larger font type layout. Fair warning: the descriptions of female genital mutilation are not fun to read.
The grandson of Van Goch was murdered in Holland. The note stabbed to his chest was addressed to the author.
Her remarkable journey is an education in Islam, technology shock, politics, and foreign policy both for the reader and for Ali. She went from living in the sixth century -- with a dash of modernity like cell phones -- to full-on twenty-first century morality and technology. She even got elected to Dutch parliament in just a few short years.
She ditched her pre-arranged husband, and claimed asylum in The Netherlands. Her father loved the idea of the marriage because it extended the tribal family and added power. He pretty much disowned his daughter over the issue.
One cute example of culture shock: Ali encountered a Dutch cop who admonished her for riding a bike at night with no light. She was very afraid of cops. She was stunned when she got a minor lecture and a ticket for 35 guilders, which she paid though the mail. She was filled with wonder over how cleaver the Dutch were to avoid graft in that way. She also noted that, unlike Somalia, everything was finished. Not "finished" in the sense of "nice moldings", but finished in the sense of done. No half built and abandoned bridges or buildings. Her slow transformation from religious nut-case, through o cognitive dissonance, to atheist is quite interesting.
I have read a lot of science fiction In my day. One plot line that comes up a lot of global war: civilization versus fanaticism. Ali feels that the major challenge of the next century may be dealing with exactly that.
Her main message about Islam: it is not about peace; it is backward; and it treats women like shit.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.