Book Reviews

BKRev1761. Nujeen. (2016). Nujeen Mustafa with Christina Lamb. New York: Harper Wave, 289 pp. Price $26.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256773-4.

Review by Amanda Johnson, College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, amanda.johnson2@unt.edu

 

Advisors engage with students as advisees every day. While advising allows an individual to interact with several students it may be rare to hear a student’s personal background. This is unfortunate because the better an advisor knows a student and understands a student’s desires, the better the advisor is able to help the student reach their academic goals. Nujeen’s story is an example of such an opportunity.

Nujeen is a first-person account that describes one Kurdish family’s escape from war in Syria in order to gain asylum and find peace in Europe. The family overcomes unique challenges during their journey as the youngest daughter, Nujeen, lives with cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair for mobility. The account focuses on Nujeen’s perspective, and much of the story reveals her feelings towards herself along with her perception of others’ views of her in relation to the effects of cerebral palsy. The story reveals a transformation in Nujeen from a lonely young girl in Syria to a hopeful student in Germany. The main point of Nujeen’s story is to explain that each person fleeing from violence is a unique individual; as she explains, “we are not numbers, we are human beings and we all have stories,” (Mustafa, Lamb, 2016, p. 12).

Nujeen’s story illustrates the importance of compassion towards all individuals. One example of Nujeen’s desire for compassion is in her retelling of meeting a new person. “When I met someone for the first time my mum would recount the whole story of my birth then go on about how smart I am, as if to say ‘Look, she can’t walk but she is not mentally disabled.’ I would just stay silent and stare at the TV,” (Mustafa, Lamb, 2016, pp. 32-33). Clearly, her mother’s introduction of Nujeen made her uncomfortable. This example acts as a reminder that each student has experienced their own struggles, and as an advisor, one ought to be sensitive to the student’s perception of their life in order to help each student reach their goals.

She desires compassion not only in light of her physical state, but also as an individual fleeing war. Nujeen’s family travelled through several countries in order to reach Germany. They experience defeat along the journey because Hungary closes its borders to refugees (Mustafa, Lamb, 2016). When Nujeen finally arrives in Germany, she is hopeful to begin her life there. Nujeen explains, “there are lots of good things in this society and I’d like to put them with good things from my society and make a Nujeen cocktail,” (Mustafa, Lamb, 2016, p. 268).

Even though the book is an account of a girl who seeks asylum in Germany, it also discusses the immigration of refugees elsewhere in Europe. The authors explain, “Germany has already given asylum to 240,000 Syrians,” while, “the UK has only taken 5,465,” (Mustafa, Lamb, 2016, p. 266). However, it would be beneficial to examine the immigration patterns of refugees to other parts of the world as well, especially as an advisor, since individuals seek education throughout the world.

Nujeen’s story is a reminder that everyone has a unique background. This is important in advising because if an advisor knows a student’s background they may better understand a student’s goals, which leads to better guidance.

References

Nujeen. (2016). Mustafa, N. and Lamb, C. New York, NY: Harper Wave.

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