This book was scary. First of all, I had no idea how widespread the problem of young men and women leaving their home country to wage jihad had become. Anna Erelle was almost effortlessly sucked in to a horrific situation that has actually happened to hundreds of young people from Europe. She demonstrates how easily a young woman, who may be lonely, marginalized, or searching for meaning, could be swept away by a religious fanatic so that she could never return home. Once these young people hit the Syrian border, their passports are taken so that, even if they changed their minds, they couldn’t go back. And, the worst part is that it happened so quickly. The events of In the Skin of a Jihadist occur over the course of one month.
Reading this as a parent, this book was a nightmare. One minute, your child is home with you- the next they’re on a one-way flight to Turkey and they’re never coming back.
As compelling as the story was, it suffered from some small translation problems. (It was originally written in French.) Why, for example, did Anna get into that fight at the photojournalist party? I know that she was under pressure and had had too much to drink, but, if it had been me, I wouldn’t have punched a bouncer because I was upset about how my story was going. When everything soured, I would have packed my bags and taken the first flight home. That probably only shows how she’s a more serious journalist than I am, but still. I felt as if I was missing some details about why she was behaving how she was and how the French police used her contacts and information to prosecute terrorists.
Overall though, it was a harrowing read. I learned more about Sharia law than I had known before I read this book and also about why people would chose that type of lifestyle- it was all profoundly disturbing. Read In the Skin of a Jihadist if you want to know more about this issue but prepare yourself for some eye-opening revelations.
If you want to learn more about this topic, I’d recommend reading The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim or I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali.
I received a free copy of this book through Good Reads First Reads program. Thanks for reading!