Sisters in War by Christina Asquith – Book Review

Sisters in War by Christina Asquith

One thing I don’t ever remember hearing the mainstream media talking about when the decision was made to invade Iraq in 2003 is what it would mean for the women and children of that country. In fact, to this day I have still not seen much explored about the lives of women in Iraq and whether they have improved or not since the war began – until I picked up Christina Asquith’s “Sisters in War.”

Asquith follows the stories of 4 different women from different backgrounds in Baghdad: Shia sisters Zia and Nunu; Heather, the white US Army reservist; and Manal, a devoutly Muslim feminist Arab-American aid worker. We begin following the sisters’ story before the invasion happens, and their hope for their future after Saddam is absolutely heart breaking.

I really don’t want to say too much about what these women experience. Obviously it is no secret what has been happening with the Iraq War (“Sisters in War” spans from 2003 to 2006), but it is something completely different to experience it through the eyes of these four women.

I was so completely invested in these women’s lives, I didn’t want to stop reading until I found out what happened to them! Asquith completely made all of them real to me. Of course they are real, but sometimes nonfiction writers don’t bring their subjects to life in the same way that authors of fiction do – not the case with “Sisters in War.” I also appreciated that Asquith did not include herself in the story she was telling. That seems to be quite the fad in narrative nonfiction right now and it often works quite well, but I think this story packed a much greater emotional punch for not including her, it read somewhat like a documentary, I felt as if I was simply a fly on the wall with all of these women.

Not always emotionally easy read, but endlessly compelling storytelling, great writing, and a fascinating subject make me highly recommend this book.

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This review was done with a book received from the publisher via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program.
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11 comments to Sisters in War by Christina Asquith – Book Review

  • Sounds like a great one, Jen. I have to admit that stories about Iraq don’t really grab me, but this sounds kind of different and probably important to know about.

  • For some reason, when you were raving about this book on Twitter, I thought it was a novel. I really want to read this one!

  • This sounds great. I am a little over journalists and writers putting themselves in the story so that in itself is enough to pique my interest, along with the fact that this is a perspective I’ve not read much about.

  • This sounds fantastic – just exactly the kind of book I love. Thanks for your review.

  • I love books like this. I think it packs such a bigger punch when the stories are real. It wouldn’t mean near as much to us if they weren’t.

  • Sounds wonderful. It’s so interesting to see how the changes in this region are effecting the women.

  • This sounds like an interesting book. Your question on what the war meant to women and children is spot-on and ever since you mentioned it I’m thinking that I’d like to know.

  • I thought this was a great book, it gave another side / dimension to war that mainly goes unreported in the media. Keep up the good work.

  • I’m glad you posted on this, because I’ve been wanting to read some literature (fiction and nonfiction) on the Middle East. I just watched an awesome documentary called Promises on children in the middle of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Aside from the basics, I know embarrassingly little about all of these Middle Eastern conflicts.