I expected that Between Two Worlds would at least be an inspiring memoir of how one person survived the terror of Saddam and the pressure that was caused by her family being chosen to spend a lot of time with him.
I found so much more. Between the covers I found fear, anger, hurt, confusion, pain- but I also found hope and peace. I found love and understanding.
Zainab Salbi takes you from her childhood when Saddam Hussein first came into power, then through the horror and terror of his regime, the times her family spend with him. As Zainab’s father was, for a time, Saddam’s personal pilot- a dubious honor that would have been dangerous to say “No” to, her family was chosen by Saddam to spend time with him.
Explaining in her book that there were choices which you just didn’t make in Iraq during the time of Saddam’s power, if you wanted to survive and wanted your family to survive. I found myself completely immersed in this book, in the emotions and the way she expressed her fears, the way her mother pushed her to escape Iraq by marrying a man she’d never met. A man who was abusive.
I found more understanding in this book, more information in this book- than any other book I’ve read thus far, concerning Iraq, Saddam Hussein and the horror and tragedy that befell so many of the Iraqi people during Saddam’s rule. Reading it not only from a personal perspective, but a WOMAN’S perspective- made the pain and suffering, the fear of the Iraqi people all the more real to me.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. It’s a book about pain, it’s a book about loss, but it’s also a book about survival, hope and finding peace. I found Between Two Worlds to be very inspiring, very much helping me to gain understanding into a world very different from my own.
In one chapter, entitled “Learning to Cry With Ducks,” Zainab likens the relationship her family- and many Iraqis- had with Saddam Hussein, to that of an abusive marriage or relationship. The attemps to maintain inner dignity and a sense of self in spite of the abuse they- and countless others- suffered at the hands of Saddam. In my opinion, the analogy was absolutely perfect for the situation.
I cried through many parts in this book, it brought to the surface many emotions. I think Zainab has done a wonderful job in bringing to light the suffering of the Iraqi people, and also given women in general hope that they can make it through the darkness of abuse and rape.
Between Two Worlds made me cry- for Zainab, for her family, for the Iraqi people, for women in general, and even for myself. A good book will do that. The emotional pull of this book is so strong that I found myself finishing it in two days, completely captive to the words written within. Even almost two weeks after finishing it, I still have difficulty writing about it.
It’s simply that good.