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Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl Paperback – August 29, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA?In a frank, candid retelling of a difficult life, the authors present honest actions and reactions to customs and events in tribal Somalia beginning in the late '50s when Aman was the young daughter of a woman whose feminist sensibilities caused her to live apart from her husband and earn her own living, dangerous as that might be. Much of Aman's youth was driven by a need for money as well as a need to remain a virgin until married. Ceremonial genital surgery at age nine was performed to help preserve her virginity, but little could be done to prevent her from falling in love with a boy who was forbidden. Once she broke the taboo at 13, her reputation was soiled and her ability to make money affected. From that point to the end of this book, when she was about 19, she was on a rocky road through a disastrous marriage, poverty, war, great risks, and varying luck. Readers cannot help but be captivated by Aman's adolescent mistakes, as well as her indomitable spirit and everlasting optimism.?Ginny Ryder, Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Though it could have been sensationalized, this is in fact an intimate look at the girlhood of a 20th-century Somali. At eight, Aman was circumcised; at 13, she was married to an older man who attempted to deflower her with a knife. By 17 she had been raped, been divorced twice, borne two children, and lost one. Repeatedly, she ran from a culture that she both respected yet found too restrictive. To survive, she used men, marriage, and entrepreneurial skills, defining her motivation simply: "I wanted to get money so I could help my mama." Editors Barnes (deceased) and Boddy (cultural anthropology, Univ. of Toronto) present more than a tale of survival. Theirs is an honest, objective look at a society that, while often in today's headlines, is little understood outside of Africa. They also show Somalia's intricate patrilineal kinship and social structures. The excellent foreword and afterword by Boddy set Aman's story in Somalia's historical and contemporary social context. Recommended for anthropology, African studies, and women's studies collections.
Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 29, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679762094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679762096
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #846,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer M. Kovacs on June 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have worked quite a bit with Somali refugees, and have established friendships with several individuals. I picked this book up in hopes of understanding more about the background of the older individuals I encounter (same "age" as Aman). The first third of the book I really enjoyed, and I think, learned much from. From that point onward, it seems to become less and less representative of "the general" experience or "a typical" experience. Though I cruised through the first part, by midpoint my interest was dropping off quickly, and I had to convince myself to finish it. If this is one of the better books to read about Somalia or Somalis, it is only because there are so few contenders.
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By A Customer on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
A fascinating biography of a Somali woman. A must for anyone who is interested in women in Africa, for the story is not Aman's alone, but that of her grandmother, her mother, and her siblings.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book because I am studying Psychology and it is the focus of a personality assessment piece I am to present. I found 'Aman' to be an easy read, but a pleasurable one. For those who choose to criticise her story, I would put to you that Aman did not presume to explain her story as that of EVERY Somali woman, but of her own life experience. Furthermore, I have been educated in the fact that not EVERY Somali woman is as dependent on her husband as I once presumed. I thank Aman for teaching ME a thing or two.
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I read this book to try and familiarize myself with Somali culture. It's an interesting story about a girl who rebels against her culture, but she doesn't entirely reject it either. Her defense of FGM is especially interesting considering her story. I had read the story once before years ago and forgotten most of it so I was surprised how this time around I found her rather unlikable. I had to keep reminding myself that she was just a teenager at the time.

As an introduction to Somali culture it's OK but the book is rather dated and it seems like her life was probably not typical of a Somali girl. At the end of the book, the editor/co-author added a lot of information about Somali history and culture trying to tie it together with Aman's story. It doesn't really fit since other than the 1969 coup and a couple of brief instances in her mother and grandmother's stories her life didn't seem much influenced by Somali history and has absolutely nothing to do with more recent Somali history since she hasn't lived there since the 70s. Aman didn't even know as a child that Somalia was an Italian colony.

It's an interesting story for what it is but if you're looking for something more current or representative of a typical Somali life then you might want to try something else. It also ends very abruptly, I was interested to hear more about how she adapted to her later life.
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Captivating story about a young Somali girl growing up in post-colonial Somalia. While her life sounded slightly less than ordinary in a conservative world where like sticks with like (she was a tad on the wild side), it gives the reader a glimpse of how life was like for a young woman there at that time. I also loved the prose; it all sounded like spoken words rather than written. It had a rather 'storytelling' vibe to it. Overall, well written and a fantastic read.
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Format: Paperback
The story of a Somali girl and her trials and tribulations is bound to be of interest. It is unfortunate that the writing of it leads to a tedious reading experience.
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I began reading this book for a research project and became enraptured. It will transport you to the time and place Aman speaks of. Not only did i fall in love with her story and the charaters in the story, but two years later, many of the historical facts and truths of somalia have really stuck with me. Poignant and at times painful, this book is unforgatable and enlightening.
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I had to read this book for my cultural anthropology class, I loved it! What an adventure, you can't help but to feel for Aman. This book is very interesting, I love the style, it is her interview translated so the voice of the text is very honest and real. This book opens your eyes to and brings you into a different culture and different way of life. Definitely worth reading.
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