Burned Alive – Souad

A friend of mine had listed this book on her TBR list on Goodreads which is where I came across this.  I’ve always been interested in the treatment of women around the world and recall doing a project on honour crimes and killings in a Women’s Studies course I took in university.

This book is made out to be a memoir/biography of a woman named Souad who falls victim to an honour crime.  It starts off by setting the scene of the abusive family she lived with and lay out the customs, traditions, and moral obligations of girl.  Basically put, it painted the typical picture of a society in which women are oppressed and forbidden to do anything.  The story takes place in Palestine where sex before marriage leads to punishment in the way a family sees fit up to and including death.  Souad falls in love and gets pregnant out of wedlock … so unfolds her story.

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Zi’s Reads:  Burned Alive by Souad

The book started off really interesting as it lay the foundation for the reader on the norms of the small village Souad lived in.  Souad does a good job in really making the reader feel as if they are a part of her family and experiencing first hand what she is observing.  Unfortunately though, I felt that the last quarter of the book I ended up just skimming over things and found Souad’s thoughts to be very disconnected.  I would say that shortly after the honour crime takes place is where things fell apart for me on the “believability scale”.   Like other reviewers on Goodreads, I found it very hard to believe that someone with 90% burns to her body survived with very little (if any) immediate care following the incident.  Souad mentions that she was literally left to rot and die but somehow made it out of the hospital seemingly fine minus her disfiguration.  I really don’t think this was based on a true story (although yes, I 100% agree that things like this happen) – I just don’t think Souad’s story was truly based on 100% fact.

I’ve definitely read worse books on the topic but I ultimately felt that readers were duped into believing this is a real memoir.  Again, it’s not to say that things like this don’t happen – honor killings are quite real; but I feel that this story took something real and added fabrications in the hopes they’d slide into the story.

I felt that near the end the story just dragged on and I found myself skimming through the pages near the end and I’m not sure I’d recommend this book based on the seemingly fictitious spins (particularly near the end of the novel).


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