If you read one memoir in the next year, I urge you to make it this one. Salbi writes of her childhood in a comfortable and loving Iraqi family. Her mother was a teacher and her father a commercial pilot. All that changed when Saddam Hussein chose her father to be his pilot.
Most of us have no clue what it was really like to live in Iraq under the Saddam Hussein and even most Iraqis have no idea what it meant to be part of his inner circle. It wasn’t a free pass for families like the Salbis, it meant that they were virtual prisoners and constantly experienced his reign of terror first hand.
The family lived in a home in Saddam’s compound, worried that the walls had ears, couldn’t trust a soul, and were at his beck and call. From the outside, I am sure that it looked like they had everything, but with all of these privileges came more eyes and ears on them constantly.
As Salibi grew up, her mother came to believe that they only way her daughter, Zainab, was going to be able to escape was if she set her up in an arranged marriage with someone not living in Iraq. Her quest for freedom led her into another kind of prison.
All of her struggling to find her own voice eventually led her to create a non profit organization, Women for Women International, that is helping women all over the world find their voice after surviving genocides, civil wars and other horrible political situations.
I think what kept hitting me was that Salbi and I are the same age. We are less than 2 years apart, yet we have led so very different lives. It just goes to show you, that life starts out with the luck of the draw and what really matters is what you choose to do with it. Salibi, her book, Between Two Worlds, and the organization, she started, Women for Women International, has made me realize that I have a lot to be grateful for and I really need to get out there and do my part of making a difference in this world.
One word to describe Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi …..Inspiring.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Gotham (August 17, 2006)
$11.90 on Amazon.