Warda: My Journey from the Horn of Africa to a College Education by Warda Mohamed Abdullahi

Warda: My Journey from the Horn of Africa to a College Education by Warda Mohamed Abdullahi is an inspiring and eye-opening account of one young woman’s determination, persistence, and grit. 

This autobiographical narrative is told by Warda herself, looking back on her life, her struggles, and the people who helped her along the way. The book doesn’t just tell Warda’s story though. It tells the story of her family, the many countries she’s called home, and of how war and turmoil can tear apart families and dreams.

We begin with Warda’s father, learning about this own struggle for an education in the face of many obstacles. We learn about his passion for education and his drive to both obtain his own education and ensure his daughter’s. We also meet Warda’s grandfather: an old-fashioned man, a farmer, someone who knows his place and what he believes to be the place of others in the family. Then we meet Warda.

Warda was born in Saudi Arabia to Somali parents, but due to lack of opportunity and discrimination, Warda ends up moving all over Africa living with different family members, meeting new people, and receiving a different kind of education everywhere she goes. From farming to Islamic studies to eventually pursuing an education in the United States, Warda’s adventure is full of excitement and turmoil, but she never gives up.

Just in time for World Refugee Day, Warda is a memoir for anyone who wants to read a book that provides new perspectives, offers a unique lens through which to view the world, and that steps outside of traditional memoir storytelling. Warda illuminates the many inequities refugees face not only to survive but to maintain their wellbeing, peace of mind, and even the simplest of human rights: for families to remain together. 

Published by Beaver’s Pond Press in December 2020, Warda: My Journey from the Horn of Africa to a College Education by Warda Mohamed Abdullahi is available for purchase now.

Read more non-fiction book reviews at Centered on Books.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.

‘Relief by Execution’ by Gint Aras

relief-by-execution-arasGint Aras’ newest release, Relief by Execution, is an essay about cultural community, universal calamity, and the power of transformation.

Aras begins his long-form essay with an introduction to himself: the son of Lithuanian refugees living in a segregated neighborhood in Chicago. We learn of the unsurprising racism in Aras’ neighborhood and his family’s equally racist attitudes. We learn of Aras’ own brushes with brutality by the hands of his father, and we learn that Aras is interested in the complicated relationship between Christian and Jewish Lithuanians.’

At first the story seems jumbled, a mix of interesting and horrifying events that don’t quite piece together. That is until, Aras embarks on his own adventure to his homeland and feels at odds with visiting the concentration camps in Europe, but why? Aras admits that it’s not because he’s afraid of being emotionally affected by the atrocities committed against humanity; instead, he’s afraid of being excited by them. His family’s racist past, his own firsthand experiences with abuse, and eventually his post-traumatic stress disorder involving those experiences haunts him into believing he might be as bad as those he judges from afar.

Aras’ story is one of healing and acceptance but not of giving in, of forgiving, or of letting go. Aras’ does none of those things as he draws the story full circle from the Holocaust to his own experiences. Instead, he provides an inspiring reinterpretation of what it means to be both a victim and an abuser. The issues of nature versus nurture battle hard in Relief by Executionas Aras’ struggles with both pulls. Is it his nature to feel violent and maladaptive thoughts, or was it his upbringing that instilled these values?

A beautifully crafted and poetic essay that deals with multiple big-ticket issues in a cohesive and fluent way, Gint Aras’ Relief by Execution is a pocket-sized must-read.

Slated for release by Homebound Publications on October 9, 2019, you can preorder a copy of the book from your local bookstore today.

Read more fiction book reviews at Centered on Books.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.