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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In When the Haboob Sings by Nejoud Al-Yagout, Dunya Khair had always noticed the cultural injustices around her but never dared to question them. When her conscience can take it no longer, she dares to speak out for the rights of women and others in a strict, patriarchal society. When her article is published, Dunya finds herself the subject of death threats and derision. Overnight her article sparks controversy and she suddenly finds herself in a cockroach-infested prison cell and denounced publicly by her family. Dunya's article draws attention from around the world and when she is released from prison, Dunya believes she must continue to fight all the injustices around her and tackle subjects that many are afraid to confront. Dunya finds herself in the midst of a scandalous witch hunt; many want to silence her, while others support her from behind closed doors. Dunya's steadfast belief that she must follow her truth and speak out continues but sometimes questioning the status quo has serious consequences.
The subject matter of this incredible story is quite relevant in today's society, where many people are persecuted for addressing cultural and religious practices. Dunya is a wonderful character with such a strong resolve but slowly her mental frailty emerges. The main message I gained, however, is that sometimes it cannot be left to one person to speak out while others agree in the shadows; sometimes you have to spread the risk about for change to occur. The descriptive narrative and behavior of characters that live under strict cultural and religious laws were relayed so realistically, and although many citizens of the West understand the difficulty of speaking out, very few experience the implications of having differing views when it could result in imprisonment or death. The entire plot is filled with shocking twists and revelations, especially the explosive ending. This is such a powerful story that the image of Dunya and her fight for the truth and justice is one that will stay with me for a very long time.