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Review: Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozella

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through the First To Read program.

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid is a truly inspirational story about a courageous girl named Samia, who desires to run in the Olympics. Samia’s dreams face numerous obstacles such as the lack of a coach and food, not to mention the war and religious expectations of her in Somalia. Samia is a strong character backed by a touchingly supportive family who decide to protect her aspirations in the face of religion, war, and poverty. Her warrior spirit who, against all odds, has the strength to follow her dreams embarks on a hazardous journey.

Samia faces challenges I can only imagine with a grace and resignation that is both elegant and also moving. This is her reality, her world for her, there is no choice but to continue to survive the poverty, the fear. Her spirit does not allow her to waver, to crumble, to never admit her fear. Her father tells her that only when she admits her fear does that give the fear (and those behind it) the power to destroy her. Her world and mine are ages apart, demonstrated by a small, but poignant example when she travels outside her home and believes the air to be scented because it lacks the smell of gunpowder. She is captivating and stirring, her pure passion of running combined with her determination make Samia’s story a joy to read. Her narration brings a sense of childlike wonder balanced by an intense focus on her dreams.

Surrounded by a cast of colorful characters, her childhood friend Ali and sister Hodan among many others, this story draws you in immediately, immersing you in an unfamiliar world. The snippets of each characters lives enrich the book, filling it with characters who are forced to make unbelievable decisions in a country ravaged by war and racial tensions. We are pulled into the story so effortlessly that the observations Samia communicates seems seamless, like we can see from her eyes. The settings balance the sense of strangeness the readers have with the comfort Samia sees, never knowing anything else.

Just knowing that this story is based on reality is more inspiring and touching. The ending feels like a gift, a breathtaking moment of light, the sliver of a dream. She perseveres against unbelievable odds, possessing a fierce ambition to go against the order of her world and dream of a bright and distant future. This book is only more emotional considering the current state of the world. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys inspiring novels, the stories of athletes, and books with heartwarming protagonists. The book will be released on August 2nd, tomorrow and I am so happy I decided to read it!  You can pick up a copy of the book here (not an affiliate link).

The cover image is from the First to Read Website.

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