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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 24 May 2013
This is the huge story of a young girl.

Throughout the book my stomach was knotted, always hoping for respite, hoping that the seemingly inevitable would not happen. The story somehow manages to weave between dramatic tensions with gentle rhythms of a different world. The success of this novel lies in its truths. It is absorbing, heartbreaking, honest and vivid.

Early in the book I had thought that it might be a suitable book for teens but as I progressed I became aware that it might be a little too graphic. This is a book for anyone who has a heart. I'd particularly recommend it to anyone with an interest in social issues but above all it is a human story. I know that any of my friends would be as engaged as I was. I can't say they'd 'enjoy' it. This is not entertainment. It is empathy.

Haoua is a character you need to know. Harmattan is a book you need to read.
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on 19 April 2012
I really enjoyed this book, a truly touching story and it's fair share of heart wrenching moments. I shed a few tears over this book! Very helpful glossary at the beginning too to help with the Djerma that's been put in some places. Really well written and very engaging story, definitely come to feel for the characters, especially knowing it's based on a true story. Definitely recommending it.
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on 18 July 2013
Sad and poignant story of an African girl forced to marry her relative at aged 12 who ill treated her.
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on 14 September 2012
Haunting yet beautifully written. The story draws the reader into the life of the key character, into the country it is set, and highlights both the beautiful aspects and the challenges facing young girls the world over. I read this in a day and I laughed, I cried, I remembered why I work on the issue of child marriage, and I was fully engrossed. Well worth a read for anyone who appreciates great writing and great storytelling with an attitude!
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on 16 March 2012
I have read it and it haunted me. It is a beautifully written heartbreaking story of a childbride. Knowing the fact that it was based on a true story makes it much more powerful. The poverty, the conditions described in the book are beyond our wildest imaginations. It is a great read and more.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 February 2013
Haoua, a young girl of 12 years suffers a huge amount of loss, yet is also very brave and resilient and can still maintain a sense of humour at times. It is almost as though she is borne back and forth by the wind, from her home in a small village, Wadata, to the capital Niamey. From the parched earth, the camion trails across the desert, the heat, the colours and the smells of West Africa - you can almost shake the sand and brittle earth out of this book as you turn the pages. The dry, arid heat lifts from the writing and water is available to us, the reader, but often not to the people who populate this book. It is sometimes shocking in its rawness, beautiful in its descriptions and remains in the consciousness long after the novel is back on the bookshelf.

Do you need any more persuading to buy this book? Then hear what the publishers have to say: "We haven't released anything as hauntingly beautiful since Tan Twan Eng's "The Gift of Rain".
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 February 2016
This Niger-based novel opens with Haoua, an abused 12-year-old third wife looking back on her earlier life.
And as the narrative begins, five years earlier, it would seem that Haoua's prospects are good as a sponsored child through a charity programme. Letters between her and her Irish 'family' form part of the novel - yet these cheerful little epistles show their writers have little grasp of the recipient's life. And Haoua's hopes for an education and a career are not to be so easily attained...

I enjoyed this novel but felt that the text sometimes felt as if the author was determined to incorporate every aspect of Niger for the reader's edification - fauna, funerals, AIDS, a look at the capital, the desert, the military, the political situation, weddings, funerals... There was also a road-trip that I think would have benefitted from being cut. And the lengthy letter that Haoua writes to an American volunteer worker at the end just didn't feel like the outpourings of a traumatized teen but rather a report that the author himself might have submitted to Amnesty International.

And yet the author manages to create touching moments too: when her long-absent soldier brother comes to spend a few days with his family - "For a moment I observed them both as if they were strangers, or actors in a movie; these two people whom I loved more than life itself, reflecting each other's smiles in that way that only a mother and her child can. It was a moment I wish I could have captured somehow - frozen it in time forever: not as a photograph, but as a tiny physical fragment".
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on 5 August 2013
This is one of the most disturbing books I've read in a long time, and mainly because it is fiction based on fact. Don't read it and think you'll come away with a rosy glow. You most definitely won't. But read it to see how lucky you are to be living in a society where there is running water, a decent transport system, plentiful supplies of varied foodstuffs, and the NHS. The central character is the narrator, a child living with her family in the poorest of conditions, but to be fair she isn't aware of how poor they are as all the other villagers live the same way. It doesn't seem possible to the reader that her life could get any worse, but before long she is living a much more degrading existence with no prospect of improvement.

I have no hesitation at all in recommending this book. It will grip you. But, as I say, forget any rosy glow.
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on 14 November 2013
Prolonged and drawn out. Found myself flicking over pages just to get to the end. Not a book that I will remember.
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on 16 July 2013
This isn't the sort of book I usually read, but it sounded interesting and from the first page, I was drawn in to the beautiful landscapes and culture of rural Niger. I found it fascinating but as the story developed, unfolding a string of tragedies I became more drawn in to the sad plight of millions of African children. Throughout the book I had such hopes for the character at the centre of the book, 11 year old Haoua Boureima, making the ending all the more shocking. A beautiful, thought provoking book that makes me thankful of many aspects of my own culture. My only criticism is the large number if typographical errors in the kindle format.
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