In the first chapter of Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is age 5, sitting on a grass mat. Her grandmother is teaching her to recite the names of her ancestors, as all Somali children must learn to do. "Get it right," her grandmother warns. "They are your bloodline. . . . If you dishonor them you will be forsaken. You will be nothing. You will lead a wretched life and die alone." Can you imagine such fear, hearing these statements from your grandmother at the age of 5?
It is difficult to do this book justice without providing too many details. Let's just say Hirsi Ali's memoirs break your heart while inspiring you.
Infidel describes Hirsi Ali's unique intellectual and physical journey, from the tribal customs of her Somali childhood, through the harsh fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia and on into the contemporary West.