Review: The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad
lyana Kadushin - Narrator
Audiobook: Duration: 12:22:59
Published November 7th, 2017
by Random House Audio Publishing Group
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.

 Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.

 On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia's brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade.

 Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.

 Today, Nadia's story--as a witness to the Islamic State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi--has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

My thoughts…

It's been a couple weeks since I read The Last Girl by Nadia Murad and I'm still thinking about. This is a memoir about her survival and escape from being held captive by the Islamic State (ISIS - Daesh).

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village in northern Iraq and a member of the Yazidi community. In the beginning of the book you get of feel of how closer her family and community are. Nadia talks about her father taking a second wife and becoming close with her younger siblings. Many families gathered for celebrations and weddings, wedding's were among Nadia's favorite to attend. At those wedding's she was able to admire and study the brides' beautiful hair and makeup, something she was very serious in pursuing for her future, to open her own salon.

That all changed on August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just 21 years old. Islamic State militants surrounded village, men and women separated at the school house. ISIS then executed the men who refused to convert to Islam. The women too old to become sex slaves were also executed.  Younger boys were taken to ISIS training sites to become fighters, who would eventually fight against their own. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother’s death soon followed. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced to convert to Islam and sold in to the ISIS slave trade. I will not go into detail about the horrific and brutality that Nadia endured while in captivity.

Nadia managed to escape, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family, who did not follow ISIS beliefs. As of 2017, Nadia was not able to find information on welfare of the family and eldest son that helped smuggler her to safety.

After reading this book I was amazed by Nadia’s will to survive, and to bring her captors to justice. At the end we get an understanding of what it is like to be a survivor, and the guilt that Nadia felt when her family, relatives, and friends do not make it. It took awhile for Nadia to talk about what she endured while captive, she wasn’t sure how she would be treated by the Yazidi men, as she was no longer a virgin.

To this day, it is thought that thousands of Yazidi women are still being held captive. Nadia has become an activist for the human rights of the Yazidi people and those have been oppressed and enslaved by ISIS. Since overtaking large portions of Iraq in 2014 ISIS has killed thousands of Yazidi’s for their religious beliefs, the UN finally recognized and called it a genocide.

I highly recommend this book, it’s not meant for enjoyment, it’s eye-opening and heartbreaking. It will bring out your emotions, I was angry and horrified that this had happened, and is still happening, genocide and slavery are Not a thing of the past.

If you would to help Nadia with her mission, Nadia’s Initiative is a public foundation dedicated to helping survivors of war crimes re-build their lives and communities.

Who are the Yazidi’s?

A historically misunderstood group, the Yazidis are predominantly ethnically Kurdish, and have kept alive their syncretic religion for centuries, despite many years of oppression and threatened extermination.

The ancient religion is rumored to have been founded by an 11th century Ummayyad sheikh, and is derived from Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian faith founded by a philosopher), Christianity and Islam. The religion has taken elements from each, ranging from baptism (Christianity) to circumcision (Islam) to reverence of fire as a manifestation from God (derived from Zoroastrianism) and yet remains distinctly non-Abrahamic. This derivative quality has often led the Yazidis to be referred to as a sect.

At the core of the Yazidis’ marginalization is their worship of a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel, one of the seven angels that take primacy in their beliefs. Unlike the fall from grace of Satan, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Melek Tawwus was forgiven and returned to heaven by God. The importance of Melek Tawwus to the Yazidis has given them an undeserved reputation for being devil-worshippers a notoriety that, in the climate of extremism gripping Iraq, has turned life-threatening.

Under Ottoman rule in the 18th and 19th centuries alone, the Yazidis were subject to 72 genocidal massacres. More recently in 2007, hundreds of Yazidis were killed as a spate of car bombs ripped through their stronghold in northern Iraq. With numbers of dead as close to 800, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent, this was one of the single deadliest events to take place during the American-led invasion.

The Yazidis had been denounced as infidels by Al-Qaida in Iraq, a predecessor of Isis, which sanctioned their indiscriminate killing.

Islamic State systematically killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidis in the summer of 2014 as they overran the Sinjar area, where many of them lived.

Numbering about 400,000 people, Yazidis are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions and are considered devil-worshippers by the hardline Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Most of the trapped people are members of the Yazidi religion, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities. They were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar in the Iraqi north-west region, or face slaughter by an encircling group of Islamic State (Isis) jihadists. The UN has said that roughly 40,000 people many women and children have taken refuge in nine locations on the mountain, a craggy, mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark.

Estimates put the global number of Yazidis at around 700,000 people, with most them concentrated in northern Iraq, in and around Sinjar.

My apologies, I do not have the links for the above source, I educated myself after reading this book and I should have made note of the websites I did visit.  -J 


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