Silence Is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia

I was sent this book to review, and I liked the sound of it immediately because of the title. I have a bit of an obsession with silence, and its causes and effects.

The book focuses on the story of Saba, who lives in a refugee camp but dreams of leaving and going to university. One day she wants to be a doctor, helping people who need it and using her intellect to make a difference in the world. 

When they first moved to the refugee camp it sounded like it would be a temporary arrangement, just until things settled down back home. But as time drags on, their lives become increasingly entrenched in the camp and no one is sure if they’ll ever leave.

Within the camp there are the usual facets of humanity: friendship, jealousy, love, relationships, hatred, sex. The story rang true precisely because life in the camp was so normalised after a while: although it never became comfortable, the protagonists were getting on with their day to day lives in much the same way as anyone not living in a refugee camp. When I read that Addonia himself grew up in a refugee camp, I wasn’t surprised; there’s an authentic tone to the book that really shines through and makes the story pack even more of a punch.

I loved how strong the women were, and how they were interested in fighting for their rights and their freedom even when they had to fight for their basic needs.

An excellent read for anyone interested in humanity and good stories, Silence Is My Mother Tongue will be remembered for years to come.


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