The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

Algonquin. Aug. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781643750675. $26.95. MEMOIR
Salh’s beautifully written memoir about her youth in Somalia also offers a tribute to her grandmother. Salh vividly describes her early life as a nomadic goat herder and the influence of her father, a teacher of Arabic. Life for young Salh, as she describes it, is one rich in poetry and storytelling; she refers to Somalia as a “nation of poets,” where poetry is considered a major form of communication for nomads. Sahl’s memoir is a tale of both physical danger and family warmth and traditions, both nomadic and urban. She brilliantly takes the reader along with her, whether that is in the desert tending her herd or in the city, protecting her family. As war draws close to Sahl’s large family, she is forced into exile, first in Kenya, and then on to Canada and the United States. That is no easy route either, and her reactions to all of the changes in her life make for a powerful story.
VERDICT A memoir that demonstrates the power of a young woman to adapt to many difficult changes in life, by an author who was truly inspired by the strength and power of women in her own family. Recommended strongly for all libraries.
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