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Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl

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This is the extraordinary first-person account of a young woman's coming of age in Somalia and her struggles against the obligations and strictures of family and society.  By the time she is nine, Aman has undergone a ritual circumcision ceremony; at eleven, her innocent romance with a white boy leads to a murder; at thirteen she is given away in an arranged marriage to a stranger.  Aman eventually runs away to Mogadishu, where her beauty and rebellious spirit leads her to the decadent demimonde of white colonialists.  Hers is a world in which women are both chattel and freewheeling entrepreneurs, subject to the caprices of male relatives, yet keenly aware of the loopholes that lead to freedom.  Aman is an astonishing history, opening a window onto traditional Somali life and the universal quest for female self-awareness.  

An extraordinary first-person account of a young woman's coming of age in Somalia during the 1950s and 1960s, Aman is an astonishing history, engagingly--and necessarily--concerned with the role of women in tribal societies, female circumcision, the vicissitudes of colonialism, and the quest for female self-awareness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Beautifully eloquent...gripping and illuminating. It's an intimate, personal account...Even more compelling that the ups and downs of Aman's life is what she manages to unveil about her society, religion and culture."—Detroit Free Press

"Most impressive...A remarkable narrative, richly detailed. [Aman] tells her tale in a voice that belongs not to the present, but to her rebellious, resilient, courageous, ferociously determined self."—Washington Post Book World

"A rare feat: a glimpse of traditional and modern Africa from a female point of view."—Macleans

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
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679762096
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 682,213
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Aman's story was originally compiled by Virginia Lee Barnes, an anthropologist (Ph.D., University of Hawaii), and upon her death in 1989, the manuscript was completed by Janice Boddy, distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto, who added an introduction placing Aman's story in its proper historical and social context.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2013

    Beautiful book

    Y is it expensive when i can get it from the library

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2005

    A wonderful look into a part of the world alot of us never see

    Aman drags you into the story you almost feel the dust from the roads on your feet and smell the animals.This is a wonderful story although sometimes sad.the only thing bad about this book is that it does have an end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2003

    Go on a trip with Aman!

    Aman is a true story of a Somalian girl, who takes you through all the good and bad traditions her country! If you like to know about Somalia but believe you can never make it, read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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