Publisher: Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noonInternational products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.Na'ima B. Robert (Author)
Age Range: 14+ Secondary/Adult
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Safia is a teenage member of a London Somalian community, a devout Muslim who is delighted, but full of trepidation, when she learns that her father, presumed murdered in the civil war, is returning to his family after a 10 year absence. How will he deal with the fact that the identities of his children are being shaped within an alien culture? The event of his return is joyful, but its aftermath has disastrous effects upon Safia and her young, rebellious brother. When he is ostracised by his father, Safia embarks upon a conflict with her own convictions which leads her into spiritual and physical danger.
The story is simply narrated in the vernacular of a troubled teenager, laced with pop clichés but also with moving soliloquies in the form of the poetry through which Safia expresses her anxieties. Conversations include frequent words and phrases in Somali, the meanings of which are contextually transparent (though a glossary is appended). This mingling of voices reflects the thought-provoking complexities beneath an effectively paced and seemingly straightforward story of family strife, attempted romance and consequent peril. I felt that the book could be read as an endorsement of Islam in its original sense of submission, that the implicit approval of Safia’s recourse to her family rather than to the police after an assault could be read as irresponsible, that the ultimate triumph of friendship and family could be read as a wish-fulfilment fantasy. But at the same time all of these readings felt like over-simplifications.
From Somalia, with love is an engagingly perplexing book that represents different cultures as more syrtic than solid, and individual identity as a process of life-long struggle between these cultures. While focusing on Somali experiences within London (and unintrusively providing some interesting information about Somali customs) it has relevance for anybody affected by frictions between age and group loyalties. That must include all of us.