*Disclaimer: Some of the contents in this book are extremely unsettling
Tonight, I wanted to share with you a book I recently read. I picked it up at my local library. I Love, I Hate, I Miss my Sister by Amelie Sarn tells the complex, tragic story of two sisters of Algerian descent living in France in the mid 2000s. The older sister Sohane becomes more in touch with her family’s religion of Islam, while her younger sister Djelila becomes more of a secular teen. This creates a divide between the sisters, as Sohane struggles to accept Djelila’s lifestyle choices and her free spirit.
In an effort to be more in touch with Muslim customs, Sohane decides to wear a headscarf to her high school which leads to her expulsion from school. Sohane is forced to use alternative methods to obtain her high school certificate due to her failure to comply with France’s ban on wearing religious symbols or attire. Meanwhile, Djelila remains a free-spirit and faces constant harassment from neighborhood bullies who hate that she doesn’t follow Muslim customs.
Despite the divide between the sisters, Sohane continues to look out for her younger sister and internally hopes that Djelila changes into who Sohane wants her to be. Throughout the story Sohane struggles with her feelings of guilt and loss over Djelila, her hatred of Djelila’s worldly decisions and jealousy of Djelila’s care free attitude. Tragically, Djelila’s care free attitude results in her horrific murder at the hands of her main tormentor, Majid.
One fateful afternoon, Sohane leaves her family’s apartment to go for a walk with Djelila on her mind. Soon she hears what she believes to be a dog howling and rushes down the stairs to discover the howling coming from the basement. She opens the door and sees her younger sister screaming as she is burning alive, while Majid looks on smiling.In disbelief she attacks Majid, while she cries out for her deceased sister.
A year later, Sohane and the rest of her family are struggling to come to terms of the murder of their sister, daughter and friend. Towards the end of the novel, Sohane accepts that her sister is dead and who she was. This novel paints the grim reality of injustice and violence towards woman on a global scale. This novel was loosely based on a true, horrific event that happened in France in 2002. The murder of seventeen year old french girl, Sohane Benziane who was of Algerian descent occurred at the hands of Jamal Derrat. She was doused with gasoline and burnt alive because Derrat wanted to settle a score with her boyfriend.
This novel resonated in my heart and deeply moved me. The injustice girls and women face around the world are unimaginable. The world needs more compassion, love without limits, understanding and open-mindedness. We need to be the light for this dark world.
” I was wrong Djelila. Your jeans were not too tight, your jacket was not too short. You had the right to be yourself. But others decided otherwise… I should not have judged you, Djelila. I should have been more understanding… I did not relate to your rebellion, but it was a mistake, Djelila. You were right. Freedom is everything.”- Sohane’s thoughts after Djelila’s murder
Have you guys read this book before or one similar to it? If so, what were your thoughts? What’s a book you read that deeply moved you? Let me know in the comments♥
-Stay Blessed y’all
*Picture courtesy of Goodreads.com