4 out of 4 stars
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Imagine for a second that you are a twelve-year-old girl with only two choices: becoming a child bride or fighting for your country as a child soldier. What would you do? Would you succumb to either destiny or would you defy each path?
Fiori Giovanni faced this exact dilemma when she was a teenager in her war-torn country, Eritrea. Fiori had to get married to an older man as tradition predisposed or join the war against Ethiopia. She did not want to do either, so she defied her destiny. In Defy Your Destiny, Fiori shares how she defied the expectations of her parents and her country to fulfill her dreams of education, work, and freedom. Her perilous journey started in Eritrea, continued through Sudan and Libya, took her across the water to Europe, and ended in Australia.
Defy Your Destiny is a heart-rending non-fiction book about resilience, optimism, drive, and determination while facing traumatic circumstances. Fiori’s resolution to keep going despite facing an unwanted marriage, war, barbarism, racism, death, and domestic abuse astounded me. She is an extraordinary woman who managed to turn her harrowing experiences into an incendiary heart that fueled her character, work ethic, dreams, and success.
Fiori’s story shows the worst and the best of humanity. Barbarous acts of war, the dreadful existence of child marriages and child soldiers, the ugliness of racism, and the deplorable behaviors of sexual harassment and domestic abuse are some examples of the worst that humanity has to offer. Fiori experienced all of that. Notwithstanding, the most precious aspect of this book is that the reader gets to take a look at the essence of a human being’s indomitable will to survive and succeed. Fiori transformed all of that suffering into focus, goals, new friends, education, jobs, and love. She shows the reader that transmuting pain into passion is one of the most beautiful abilities human beings possess.
I cried a few times while reading this book. Even though I know of the existence of child marriages, it shocked me that Fiori’s parents wanted her to marry when she was just twelve years old. Fiori says: “For many Eritrean parents, the ultimate life goal is for their children to marry early, and to have babies quickly, even if they are practically babies themselves.” The fact that child marriages are a regular occurrence in parts of our world is distressing. Another part of the book that caused me anguish was when reading about what happened to Fiori’s brother, Amanuel, whose fate demonstrates that the world community needs to do much more for refugees from war-ravaged countries.
Beyond a doubt, I rate Defy Your Destiny by Fiori Giovanni 4 out of 4 stars because it is a story about survival that discusses themes that are affecting millions of people and brings awareness and hope. Fiori’s writing style is neat and touching, and the book was exceptionally well edited. Her journey inspires the reader to keep going no matter what happens. A person can shape his or her destiny. In the author’s own words: “My destiny was constantly being defied, not by chance, but by choice. Not by any stroke of luck, but by blood, sweat, and tears.”
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy inspiring memoirs and stories about contemporary world problems. I would not recommend this book to sensitive readers. Note that the book has violent content about war and distressing events with racism, domestic abuse, and sexual harassment.
Defy your Destiny
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