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Waris Dirie leads a double life—by day, she is an international supermodel and human rights ambassador for the United Nations; by night, she dreams of the simplicity of life in her native Somalia and the family she was forced to leave behind. Desert Flower, her intimate and inspiring memoir, is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about the beauty of African life, the chaotic existence of a supermodel, or the joys of new motherhood.

Waris was born into a traditional Somali family, desert nomads who engaged in such ancient and antiquated customs as genital mutilation and arranged marriage. At twelve, she fled an arranged marriage to an old man and traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu—the first leg of an emotional journey that would take her to London as a house servant, around the world as a fashion model, and eventually to America, where she would find peace in motherhood and humanitarian work for the U.N.

Today, as Special Ambassador for the U.N., she travels the world speaking out against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, promoting women's reproductive rights, and educating people about the Africa she fled—but still deeply loves.

Topics: Survival, Family, London, Immigration, Civil and Political Rights, Women's Health, Made into a Movie, Somalia, Heartbreaking, African Authors, Somalian Authors, England, New York City, Feminism, Africa, Poverty, Fashion, Models, New York, Adventurous, Discrimination, Desert, Provocative, Sex, 1970s, 1990s, 1980s, and Refugees

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 23, 2009
ISBN: 9780061952272
List price: $11.14
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the story carry away from our every-day-lifestyle, it is very emotionalread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Though some of us cringed as we read parts of this book, it was enlightening but terribly sad. We felt that parts of the book seemed to be written by two different people ..... perhaps the presence of the writer who helped her write the book? Never mind all that .................. at least the book is serving to make the world aware of the terrible procedure that is still occuring today..... and hopefully one day help will come and things will change.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A Somalian nomad tells of her harrowing childhood in the dessert (including genital mutilation), and her rise to fame as a model.read more
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the story carry away from our every-day-lifestyle, it is very emotional
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Though some of us cringed as we read parts of this book, it was enlightening but terribly sad. We felt that parts of the book seemed to be written by two different people ..... perhaps the presence of the writer who helped her write the book? Never mind all that .................. at least the book is serving to make the world aware of the terrible procedure that is still occuring today..... and hopefully one day help will come and things will change.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A Somalian nomad tells of her harrowing childhood in the dessert (including genital mutilation), and her rise to fame as a model.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
after reading INFIDELITY I was hope to get more inside of the situation of women in Africa and I got it, but I am scared that young girl might stat to think it is easy to run and away and then your become a model and famous and rich. These stories are single stories and so many young girl vanish and die. I just hopethese books will open the eyes of a lot of people and they will start to make a change.
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This is the story of a Somali nomad girl who becomes a famous international model. After learning at age 12 that her father wants to marry her to a 60-year-old man in exchange for five camels, Waris (meaning 'desert flower') runs away from home. She makes it to London, working as a servant-girl for her uncle, the ambassador. Later she is discovered, and goes on to work as a top model and a UN spokeswoman on women's rights in Africa. This autobiography delves into Waris's childhood as part of a nomadic tribe living off what they could find in the desert. It also describes her horrific circumcision at the age of five and the ongoing legacy of that ordeal. It is an inspiring story, made all the more sad by the fact that the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is still be carried out on little girls, without anesthetic, leaving them with a lifetime of pain and discomfort. Shocking!'I had to learn new survival skills for this new world, which were different from the ones I was raised with in the desert. Here I needed to learn English, and how to communicate with all sorts of people. Knowing about camels and goats wasn't going to keep me alive in London' (p. 123).'The health problems I've coped with since my circumcision also plague millions of girls and women throughout the world. Because of a ritual of ignorance, most of the women on the continent of Africa live their lives in pain. Who is going to help the women in the desert - like my mother - with no money and now power? Somebody must speak out for the little girl with no voice' (p. 225).
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Desert Flower is as an excellent introduction to the nomadic culture of the Somali desert. Somalia, as described by Dirie, is a beautiful and dangerous place. The people who inhabit the desert must use all their strength to create a life using only sand and the little water that can be found. It is this strength that enabled Dirie to survive female genital mutilation, her flight across the desert to avoid an arranged marriage, living as a servant in England, and finally achieving success as a model. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, finding it to be easy to read and well-written. Dirie manages to describe the more intimate events in her life with just enough detail to get her point across. She is factual, but not over the top. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Desert Dawn.
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