book review: betrayed by Rosie Lewis

I’ve read and reread this book a couple times. It’s both on bookshare and on audible narrated by an amazing british actress.

The full title of the book reads:” Betrayed: One Girl’s Struggle to Escape a Cruel Life Defined by Family Honor.”

That proitty much sums up the complex journey of Zadie Hason, a thirteen year old girl who shows up at the Lewis house as an emergency placement. She was found having run away from home and spent the night outside. She was so incredibly anxious begging the police not to bring her home that they contacted social services.

The only thing that the family knew about the girl before her rarrival was that she was Muslium. And they were a bit nervous about her coming into a qhite british family. However social services had spent all day looking for Muslium caregivers and couldn’t locate anyway. Zadie was despereate for a caring foster family and a safe place to stay til this situation got sorted out which the social worker thought would happen quickly. She reasoned this was a matter of a case of family conflect or Zadie wanting to rebel against certain rules, like not being allowed to go to school and being kept to a life of prayers, and housework.

From the minute Rosie meets Zadie she doesn’t appear to be a rebellious girl at all. Extremely withdrawn and anxious, she barely says a word the first night and is increRosie walks by Zadie on the computer and sees a disturbing pornographic video that Zadie had tried to quickly erase from the screen. Zadie flees and has a panic attack in the bathroom. Rosie lets things settle before addressing the issue. Zadie is so overcome with shame and anxiety and claims it was a mistake of opening an unknown link that Rosie leaves it.

Rosie sees something odd about contact between Zadie and her brother Chit who demands to see her. She sees that he is quite controlling of her just by the way he moves and behaves towards her though they’re talking their native language. It takes a long time forher to discover just how cruel Chit is.

It is a week or so later when Zadie’s father demands contact that Zadie breaks down and tells Rosie some of why she ran away. She overheard she would be “cut” soon by an aunt, of all people a woman. Cut as in FGM. When she was younger she had witnessed her own sister’s FGM, and Chit perversely had made her watch videos of the process. Rosie was beyond disgusted and told the social worker and all contact with the family was suspended. Upon reading up on FGM and forced marraiges, another fate Zadie feared, she found a muslium women’s center in London. There she met Sofia, a strong passionate and loving advocate for girls and women trapped in the oppressive dangerous aspects of the culture. She told horrible stories about women faced with death if they questioned their family too much, Sofie being actually on the run due to protesting so much. She traveled with body guards constantly.

She advised Rosie on how to best support Zadie. Her most important caution was to sew something metal into all of Zadie’s robes so that if she were kidnaped by her father and brothers, a real possibility it would set off the metal dectetors at the airport buying her enough time to tell someone and get help.

Time passes and Zadie gradually settles into the family making friends with Jamie and Emily and feeling close to Rosie’s mother. She still has a lot of anxiety and is doing things that don’t make sense. Not eating very much and throwing herself aggressively around on the trampoleen. Rosie also knows Zadie is self harming but doesn’t know how to address it.

Then one night instinct tells Rosie to check on Zadie and finds her covered in blood by significant knife wounds to her stomach. She is rushed to the hospital and while her wounds are not life threating it is discovered that she is pregnant. It is a complete shock to Rosie and she beats herself up for not noticing the signs sooner. Zadies total withdrawal and anxiety over a new infant placement.Her tearful outburst a when Rosie excitedly tells her there is a possibility for her to go to a very muslium accomidating school, the exercising upset stomach and now this dangerous attempt at losing the baby.

It is quickly discovered that the baby is Chit’s. That this seemingly upstanding man is a cruil perpratrator of incest. When the family finds out they diszone Zadie, in a perverse way blaming her for what happened. Rosie and her family are outraged and their love for Zadie and commitment to seeing her through this grows even stronger.

Sofia becomes invaluable in the time of Zadie’s pregnancy. Zadie and her family were sure Nadie her sister had fled never to be seen again, due to needing to excape forced marriage. Sofia managed to find Nadie who was overjoyed to see her sister. Having her sister by her side gave Zadie even more strength.

After a tense and slightly traumatic laborZadie gave birth to a healthy baby girl she named after her mother. Zadie at first finds motherhood exhausting and terrifying as any new mother would, made worse by the fact she’s only fifteen years old and had no say in being in this position. However her instincts kick in and she becomes an excellent mother.

Zadie is able at last to attend school. Things seem to be falling into place for her. In a couple of dramatic twists and turns Z Zadie and her daughter at least are able to connect with family that Zadie thought was truly dead.

The women having been caught for so long in a cage like situation defined by total domination by the men supposed to love them, come out filled with love for each other and a bright future. This is Rosie’s latest book and the story happened quite recently ending in 2012.

There are thousands of girls and women like Zadie in the world in Rosie’s hope with the story is to make that be known and bring light to a previously hidden and unknown issue.

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