Monday, April 14, 2014

The Orchard of Lost Souls

Title:  The Orchard of Lost Souls
Author:  Nadifa Mohamed
Publication Information:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2013. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0374209146 / 978-0374209148

Book Source:  I read the book based on the description.

Favorite Quote:  "I don't need anyone, but that doesn't mean that I don't want certain things ... And those certain things are? ... Someone by my side, on my side, who I can share my thoughts with..."

The Orchard of Lost Souls is the story of the women of Somalia. Violent civil war broke out in Somalia during the 1990s. The civil war combined with drought and poverty brought death, destruction, and heartbreak to Somalia. The Orchard of Lost Souls tells a story set in this harsh environment.

The book tells the story of three women:

Deqo is a young girl who is born in a refugee camp, who is abandoned at birth by her mother, and who has no idea who her father is. She is a child trying to survive and trying to find a home and a family.

Kawsar is an older woman whose home is a smaller village. She is surrounded by friends who love her; yet, she has lost her family - her husband and her daughter. She is surviving; she is struggling to keep a semblance of control over her life and her home. Yet, she thinks at times that death might be easier.

Filsan is the soldier. She comes from a military family and is attempting to follow the rules ingrained in her and to make a career for herself. Yet, is that what she wants? Are the rules the ones to be followed? What hurts is she trying to overcome?

The first and final sections of the book are when the stories of these three women meet in a dramatic way. The middle three sections of the book tell the story of each one individually. We see a story of strength and of vulnerability. We see a story of sorrow and of love and friendship. We see a story of losses and of hope.

Be warned, though. This book is not easy to read. Some the descriptions are brutal and harrowing.

I don't know much about the history of Somalia or the culture. Yet, I recognize in these women patterns seen around the world. Women holding families together. Women forming a community. Women surviving abuse and atrocities. Women standing together. Strong women. Courageous women.

That is what makes this such a compelling story that holds you from beginning to end.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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