Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad

Waris Dirie and Cathleen Miller
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jul 20, 2014

This memoir explores the life of Waris Dirie, recognized by many for her work as a model, and by others for her advocacy for human rights and a battle against female genital mutilation. The reader follows her from her early life as a nomad in the deserts of Somalia, to her difficult and sometimes dangerous journey to Mogadishu and eventually London. Working there as an underappreciated maid for her own family, she is "discovered", and sets off on an equally nomadic life as a model. Throughout her journey, Waris has to face the world with her own wits and tenacity. The best part of this story is how, despite the many difficulties and indignities she faces, Waris carries on with such dignity and spirit, finding beauty and gratitude all along the way. While many might value her outer beauty, it is her inner beauty and strength which shine through in this amazing story.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Incredible story aside, what I most enjoyed was the narration. Waris, and presumably Cathleen Miller, her cowriter, deliver her story straightforwardly and honestly. She doesn't hold back her opinions about even her own family members, and what she has to say is often unflattering. But you never get the sense that she is giving her opinions in order to embarrass anyone, but simply to give true expression to what she has lived through, to make the reader understand. It takes courage to write honestly, and that is what stands out most about Waris in this book – her courage.

Reviewed by Megan C.
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