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A true story and a great book

Book Review: Must Reads For Youth

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (Ages 16+):

Travel to 1970s Egypt and follow the life of Firdaus from youth to awaiting execution in Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi.

Saadawi, often dubbed “Egypt’s most radical woman”, was an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, and physician – her primary focus being the elimination of genital mutilation practices in the Arab world.

Woman at Point Zero is told in three parts. In part one, a psychiatrist researching female inmates visits Cairo prison and meets Firdaus, a murderess who is unlike any other murderer the prison has ever seen – Firdaus agrees to share her story with the psychiatrist; part two tells Firdaus’s life story; part three ends the book with the psychiatrist seeing Firdaus off to her execution and reflecting on what she learnt from her.

Must Reads For Youth

Welcome to my Must Reads For Youth weekly book review. I simply love books, and am excited that The Royal Gazette is partnering with me to help share my reviews of great books. As a young reader, I have found that the most common reason as to why many young people stop reading is because they either do not know what to read or have not found books that they really enjoyed. My aim is to change that. Happy reading!

Firdaus’s life story reveals her poor childhood of cruelty and neglect; experiencing the horrors of FGM; her passion for education being ignored in favour of her marriage to a much older man; others trapping her into prostitution; and finally, the series of events that led her to murder.

Woman at Point Zero was based on a true story: Saadawi visited many imprisoned women to conduct 21 in-depth case studies for her 1976 publication, Women and Neurosis in Egypt, but Firdaus remained “a woman apart”. Firdaus was executed in 1974 but she left a lasting impact on Saadawi, who said she could not rest until she had written about Firdaus’s story and finished the novel in one week.

This 142-page novel explores the subjugation of women in Middle Eastern societies. I found Firdaus’s story extremely gripping – a page-turner where I was increasingly immersed in the plot with every twist. I would recommend Woman at Point Zero to anyone interested in feminism around the world or simply someone looking for their next great book.

Marli Spriggs is the head girl at Bermuda High School, founder of BookSpace and winner of the 2021 Bermuda Economic Development Corporation Student Rocket Pitch competition

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Published February 06, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated February 06, 2023 at 9:55 am)

A true story and a great book

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