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The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

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“I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their “I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their most obedient camels and herded their livestock to a new home.” When Shugri Said Salh was six years old, she was sent to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert, away from the city of Mogadishu. Leaving behind her house, her parents, her father’s multiple wives, and her many siblings, she would become the last of her family to learn a once-common way of life. The desert held many risks, from drought and hunger to the threat of predators, but it also held beauty, innovation, and centuries of tradition. Shugri grew to love the freedom of roaming with her goats and the feeling of community in learning the courtship rituals, cooking songs, and poems of her people. She was even proud to face the rite of passage that all “respectable” girls undergo in Somalia, a brutal female circumcision. In time, Shugri would return to live with her siblings in the city. Ultimately, the family was forced to flee as refugees in the face of a civil war—first to Kenya, then to Canada, and finally to the United States. There, Shugri would again find herself a nomad in a strange land, learning to navigate everything from escalators to homeless shelters to, ultimately, marriage, parenthood, and nursing school. And she would approach each step of her journey with resilience and a liveliness that is all her own. At once dramatic and witty, The Last Nomad tells a story of tradition, change, and hope.


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“I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their “I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their most obedient camels and herded their livestock to a new home.” When Shugri Said Salh was six years old, she was sent to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert, away from the city of Mogadishu. Leaving behind her house, her parents, her father’s multiple wives, and her many siblings, she would become the last of her family to learn a once-common way of life. The desert held many risks, from drought and hunger to the threat of predators, but it also held beauty, innovation, and centuries of tradition. Shugri grew to love the freedom of roaming with her goats and the feeling of community in learning the courtship rituals, cooking songs, and poems of her people. She was even proud to face the rite of passage that all “respectable” girls undergo in Somalia, a brutal female circumcision. In time, Shugri would return to live with her siblings in the city. Ultimately, the family was forced to flee as refugees in the face of a civil war—first to Kenya, then to Canada, and finally to the United States. There, Shugri would again find herself a nomad in a strange land, learning to navigate everything from escalators to homeless shelters to, ultimately, marriage, parenthood, and nursing school. And she would approach each step of her journey with resilience and a liveliness that is all her own. At once dramatic and witty, The Last Nomad tells a story of tradition, change, and hope.

30 review for The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

  1. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    “I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their most obedient camels and herded their livestock to a new home.” Shugri Said Salh's memoir details the time from when sh “I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their most obedient camels and herded their livestock to a new home.” Shugri Said Salh's memoir details the time from when she was six years old and her mother sent her to live with her Ayeeyo (Grandmother), a nomad living in the dessert. She left behind life in the city, her siblings, her mother, her father and his many wives. Shugri Said Salih wrote "This is the legacy of my ancestors that I want to leave behind me for my children - and my readers." By leaving them behind she became the last nomad of her family. The dessert was many things for her - a place to play, a place of hunger, a place of drought, a place of extreme beauty, a place of freedom, a place full of predators, a place of community and a place which held the history of her ancestors. History is a very important thing to those living in Somali. Children can recite the names of their forefathers all the way back to the original four clans. "When an elder dies, a library is burned." - An African Proverb. It is no wonder that the author wanted to tell her history. She begins her chapters with a Somali proverb. She also shares nomadic traditions including a procedure called gudniin -female circumcision. It is a normal part of Somali culture and that young girls look forward to this as they want to be seen as "clean" and not "dirty." Shugri Said Salh does move back to the city to be with her family leaving her beloved Ayeeyo behind. She shares of her mother's death, her pain of not having a photograph of her, of being forced to flee when there is a civil war. She had to flee to Kenya, Canada and finally to the United States. She faced hardships, was homeless, was introduced new lands with modern devices which were foreign to her. While reading this memoir, I couldn't help but admire and be impressed by her resiliency. She was brave in ways many of us never have to be. While reading this memoir, I couldn't help but think could I have lived through this? How did she survive? From the moment she was born, she was taught and conditioned for a nomadic life. Her Ayeeyo and the dessert were her teachers. She bravely faced her female circumcision, she fought back when under attack, and she endured and preserved. She is a survivor. This memoir not only paints a picture of the author's life but gives readers a glimpse into another culture. Readers will learn about Somali tradition, customs and survival. I felt for her, I cheered for her, and I enjoyed her story. I admired her strength and courage. This is a moving, well written and captivating memoir. I was moved by her words about her Ayeeyo (grandmother) "She commanded the dessert with authority, and I watched her every move with deep admiration. My Ayeeyo was my hero, who left me with the belief that I am enough." Powerful, moving, informative and gripping! Thank you to Algonquin Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    An old African proverb says, “When an elder dies, a library is burned.” I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds . . . In this newly-published memoir, Shugri Said Salh takes the reader from the time she was six years old, and sent to live with her grandmother in the desert, to her escape from war-torn Somalia and the beginning of her new life in Canada. The thing the reader ought to know up front is that there is some graphic stuff in this memoir. Some of it is what yo An old African proverb says, “When an elder dies, a library is burned.” I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds . . . In this newly-published memoir, Shugri Said Salh takes the reader from the time she was six years old, and sent to live with her grandmother in the desert, to her escape from war-torn Somalia and the beginning of her new life in Canada. The thing the reader ought to know up front is that there is some graphic stuff in this memoir. Some of it is what you might expect when a country is ripped apart by war, when the social order is destroyed, but much of it is age-old custom, which firmly maintains women as subordinate to men—a situation that considerably worsened when a new and ultra-conservative form of Islam spread across that part of Africa. As always, war, and male-dominated reinterpretation of Islam’s holy writ, is toughest on the old, young, and disabled, and most especially on the women. Not that women don’t have their place in maintaining customs that make the rest of the world flinch. When she was eight years old, it was the women of the clan who took her to be “circumcised.” With the clarity and dignity that highlights the entire book, Shugri Said Salh explains the thinking behind this cruel custom, and why it’s still carried out to this day. Dignity is a significant theme in this memoir. Early on, she lovingly describes her ayeeyo (grandmother)’s life in the desert, which was precariously balanced between drought and predatory animals; the grandmother never knew how to read, but her insight and compassion, her strength, are conveyed through the stream of small anecdotes that make up the early chapters, demonstrating the powerful effect ayeeyo had on Shugri Said Sahl’s life. The opening might seem confusing, as Shugri Said Salh does some jinking back and forth in time, but the narrative settles into a linear progression fairly soon, particularly when she is able to rely on her own memories, rather than piecing early childhood glimpses with what she was subsequently told by other relatives. One of the most complex of her relatives is her father, a teacher and a holy man, who insisted that his many daughters (he had twenty-three children by various wives over the decades) be educated, in spite of the prevailing custom that only sons ought to be schooled. Her father said, “if you educate a son, you educate one person, but if you educate a daughter, you educate the whole community.” But this father’s teaching method was extreme physical cruelty: if his children did not memorize lessons to his satisfaction. His beatings resulted in emotional as well as physical trauma. After her beloved mother died, she ended up living in various places, including an orphanage, which was her first exposure to white people and Western culture. She describes, with vivid images, life in Mogadishu, which was slowly eroding toward war. Again, with that sense of humane balance, she describes the benefits of living under the dictator who controlled the country, before getting to the fallout of the dictator’s less admirable practices. And after that, the memoir takes a turn toward grim as she describes life as a teenager in a country descending into the horrors of war. But the book is not all horror. She learned the art of storytelling from her grandmother, and that shows in the skillful way the book is written. There are countless anecdotes that paint vivid glimpses of various personalities, including the strong Somali appreciation for poetry, all woven together with a thread of humor. Even in the midst of terrible destruction, there are moments of laughter, such as when a fine red dress has the unexpected result of causing a camel to become, ahem, amorous. The book does need advisory warnings of all kinds, including animal cruelty as well as depiction of the human side of grim statistics about women, but Shugri Said Sahl never lets the reader forget the dignity, generosity, and worth of the women who helped shape her into who she is today. I began this book intending to dip into it over a series of nights and ended up so engrossed I read it all in one sitting. Copy provided by NetGalley

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I am the last nomad…I am the last person in my direct line to have once lived like that, and now I feel like the sole keeper of my family’s stories. from The Last Nomand by Shugri Said Sahl A popular says that before you judge a person, walk a mile in their shoes. I would not have lasted a mile in Shugri Said Salh’s shoes. Maybe not even a half mile. And not just because she spent her childhood as a nomadic goat herder in the harsh landscape of Somalia. She survived a changing world, time in an o I am the last nomad…I am the last person in my direct line to have once lived like that, and now I feel like the sole keeper of my family’s stories. from The Last Nomand by Shugri Said Sahl A popular says that before you judge a person, walk a mile in their shoes. I would not have lasted a mile in Shugri Said Salh’s shoes. Maybe not even a half mile. And not just because she spent her childhood as a nomadic goat herder in the harsh landscape of Somalia. She survived a changing world, time in an orphanage, war, a refugee camp, starvation, and immigration to a foreign land. Her memoir reveals a woman of such strength and determination that few can equal her. For all the terrors she witnessed, she knew what she wanted, who she wanted to be. She gained an education, found her life partner, and thrives in her life in 21st c. America. But note that it was Canada that accepted her immigration. Shugro Said Salh does not wring our hearts for pity. She loved her heritage and country and her way of life even while recognizing their faults. She had great adoration and respect for her grandmother and mother, their beauty and strength, and she bristles at how they were treated. She thrived under a dictator who advanced equal education for girls; her teacher father taught, “if you educate a son, you educate one person, but if you educate a daughter, you educate the whole community.” She found role models and assistance to help her become the woman she wanted to be. She does not pity herself for undergoing female circumcision as a girl since it was an age old tradition, although as a nurse she recognizes its negative impact on women’s lives and its consequences on female health and sexuality. What she does bemoan is her country’s division, the clan warfare, the religious fanaticism, and the violence inflicted by people on their own countrymen. It is a story that can send chills down one’s spine, especially when looking at America today and seeing the deep divisions fomenting violence and hatred. Her memories of nomadic life is rendered with great beauty. Her honest acceptance of some of the traditions may disturb some readers, as will stories of life under war. “Survival is woven into the fabric of who I am,” she writes. I could feel the author’s urgency to tell her story before her world is forgotten. “Stories have always created understanding and connection between humans,” she writes. Some of her happiest memories were of the storytelling around the campfires in the desert nights. Now, she has become a story teller. She will entertain you, and horrify you, and inspire you. Hopefully, her stories will create an understanding of people from a world far removed from your own, and nurture respect. An old African proverb says, When an elder dies, a library is burned. I an not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds. from The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ✨ jami ✨

    An old African proverb says, “When an elder dies, a library is burned.” I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds . . . An incredible memoir! Follows Shugri Said Salh's experience growing up as a nomadic goat herder being taught ancestral ways by her Ayeeyo. And then goes into her later life including living through Somalia's civil war to become a refugee in Kenya and her move from Nairobi to Ottawa and then Toronto. I listened to the audiobook and I thought it was An old African proverb says, “When an elder dies, a library is burned.” I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds . . . An incredible memoir! Follows Shugri Said Salh's experience growing up as a nomadic goat herder being taught ancestral ways by her Ayeeyo. And then goes into her later life including living through Somalia's civil war to become a refugee in Kenya and her move from Nairobi to Ottawa and then Toronto. I listened to the audiobook and I thought it was so well narrated. There are definitely some graphic, confronting and uncomfortable portions of this book - but I felt Shugri Said Salh did an incredible job doing what she set out to do - pass along and share stories of her people and life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    4.5 stars Compelling, transformative, and reflective—this memoir of "the last nomad" is a must-read for fans of memoir and nonfiction. Writing: ★★★★ Engagement: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★★ 1/2 The Last Nomad is one of those books where it arrived to my house, I said "oh, let me get a feel for the writing...I'll just read the first page" and then 45 minutes later, I realized I was several chapters in and fully, completely invested in the story. The best type of book, am I right? Shugri Said Salh's compelling me 4.5 stars Compelling, transformative, and reflective—this memoir of "the last nomad" is a must-read for fans of memoir and nonfiction. Writing: ★★★★ Engagement: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★★ 1/2 The Last Nomad is one of those books where it arrived to my house, I said "oh, let me get a feel for the writing...I'll just read the first page" and then 45 minutes later, I realized I was several chapters in and fully, completely invested in the story. The best type of book, am I right? Shugri Said Salh's compelling memoir details her experience as her family's "last" nomad. Now, as she immediately explains, Salh knows she is not the literal "last nomad" in the world. Not by a long shot. But for her familial line, generations of whom had existed similar lives as nomads in the Somali deserts, Salh IS their last nomad—her upbringing as a nomad transformed into her adulthood as a mother living in present-day suburban California. What does it mean to straddle two lifestyles, worlds, and realities so dramatically? From survival to excess, the hunt for water to the overabundance of brand options, the intimate oral histories of your elders to the immediacy of the now at the cost of the internal memory, The Last Nomad highlight's Salh's desire to record her story for posterity and for her children to keep the link to the past within her and her family. And, luckily, for us readers too. She quotes the African proverb, "when an elder dies, a library burns" and with this poignant remark as a touchstone, she walks us through her life experiences. I don't want to get too specific with her stories, as it would merely be a pale regurgitation of Salh's own words, so take my word for it—The Last Nomad is one-of-a-kind. It'll linger with me for some time. Many thanks to the publish for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    "Stories have always created understanding and connection between humans. In this great era of misunderstanding, I wish to help rein us back to our shared humanity." ----------------------- The story of Shugri's life opened a new door for me, one that helped me to understand the life of women in Somalia. Born to a nomadic tribe, she describes the beauty and brutality of a life spent simply trying to survive on what the earth provides. The stories of her clan and the fierceness of her ayeeyo (grand "Stories have always created understanding and connection between humans. In this great era of misunderstanding, I wish to help rein us back to our shared humanity." ----------------------- The story of Shugri's life opened a new door for me, one that helped me to understand the life of women in Somalia. Born to a nomadic tribe, she describes the beauty and brutality of a life spent simply trying to survive on what the earth provides. The stories of her clan and the fierceness of her ayeeyo (grandmother) herding goats and camels to protect them from lions and hyenas were immersive. I loved understanding the importance of ancestry in the oral history of the nomadic people. Shugri's circumstances were quite different to the other girls of her tribe because her father valued education. She is pulled from her life in the wild and forced into boarding school and goes from learning essential skills in one world to a completely different set of skills for a different life. There are lots of heavy stories related to the view of females as property and sexual violence which are hard to read. Shugri describes in detail the experience of her female circumcision, known to us in the western world as genital mutilation. We learn the value of a woman is completely based on her intact virginity, her ability to provide male children and take care of the home.  I loved gaining an understanding of how religion and culture balanced with the need for the day to day survival in modern Somalia. Shugri describes the impact of disease, injury and warfare on the average citizen. She describes the attempts at bringing women to equality and how religious conservatives fought deeply against that transition. How warfare brought clan against clan without regard to the actual people within those clans. The trauma of the people forced to leave under these conditions and flee their homes as refugees.  The proverbs at the beginning of each chapter were my favorite part, they gave such insight into the Somali mind.The Last Nomad is a powerful story of female survival and what it means to equally love and feel the need to overcome your culture. Thanks to Algonquin Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    The memoirs I appreciate the most are those that open my eyes to a different culture or a lifestyle I will never experience. In 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐍𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐝, Shugri Said Salh writes of her early nomadic life in the desert of Somalia. She and her siblings were forced to flee their homeland as refugees due to the dangers of civil war. Her journey was once again nomadic in nature, traversing through many countries, at times homeless, but ultimately she would marry, start a family and graduate nursing school with The memoirs I appreciate the most are those that open my eyes to a different culture or a lifestyle I will never experience. In 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐍𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐝, Shugri Said Salh writes of her early nomadic life in the desert of Somalia. She and her siblings were forced to flee their homeland as refugees due to the dangers of civil war. Her journey was once again nomadic in nature, traversing through many countries, at times homeless, but ultimately she would marry, start a family and graduate nursing school with honors. Shugri Said Salh writes with poetic beauty, but it is raw and honest. She tells of the trauma she faced as a child - the rite of passage in female circumcision that she endured, the misogynistic standards her society upheld, and the fear of war. While I did enjoy the descriptions of goat herding and life out in the desert, her resilience and determination are what I admired the most. The world comes together by understanding each other’s stories, and 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐍𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐝 is just that story. Thank you to @algonquinbooks and @shugrisalh for an invitation to this tour and a gifted copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Israa

    Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. It took me a long time, but I’m glad that I finally finished reading this memoir. The anecdotes are memorable and well-written. I think a map, timeline, and family tree would have helped me comprehend a little better. I didn’t follow along with the politics, but I still enjoyed the narrative. I appreciate the author’s point of view that one can be proud of the past, culture, and heritage while at the same time leave out the parts that don’t serve you per Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. It took me a long time, but I’m glad that I finally finished reading this memoir. The anecdotes are memorable and well-written. I think a map, timeline, and family tree would have helped me comprehend a little better. I didn’t follow along with the politics, but I still enjoyed the narrative. I appreciate the author’s point of view that one can be proud of the past, culture, and heritage while at the same time leave out the parts that don’t serve you personally. I learned a lot about Somalia, it’s culture, and the nomadic traditions. I felt the author balances positive and negative views of culture with using perceptions from the people in context. While there are some graphic descriptions of female mutilation and violence, educators could still use portions of the memoir for cultural or social studies without needing to use the book in its entirety.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sonali Dabade

    4.5 stars! "In nomadic society, women carried the burden of keeping the family and clan honor. The division of labor between men and women was crystal clear and unchanging: men hunted, herded camels, and went to war, while women performed all the essential domestic chores." It is sometimes spine-chilling how societies across the world have this in common. To slot a woman into a box and then tell her that it is for her own good, when in fact, it's nothing but patriarchy. "I love you, but only if yo 4.5 stars! "In nomadic society, women carried the burden of keeping the family and clan honor. The division of labor between men and women was crystal clear and unchanging: men hunted, herded camels, and went to war, while women performed all the essential domestic chores." It is sometimes spine-chilling how societies across the world have this in common. To slot a woman into a box and then tell her that it is for her own good, when in fact, it's nothing but patriarchy. "I love you, but only if you conform to these rules that we have laid" is a common thing globally. Yes, even in the so-called 'modern' societies. So when I got the chance to read Somalian author Shugri Said Salh's memoir, The Last Nomad, I was instantly intrigued. How similar or different are our cultures? How are men and women treated? How? What? Why? In The Last Nomad, Shugri Said Salh (SSS) details her life as a nomad in Somalia, her relationship with the desert, where she lived a nomadic life with her ayeeyo (grandmother), her equation with her parents and siblings and with the people around her, how she saw the world and how the world saw her, the rules that the nomadic society lives by, her move to a city and how she dealt with city life, how her life turned out under a dictatorial father who advocated equality in education across genders, her watching the nomadic clans warring around her, her life in a politically turbulent country, and her eventual flight from it as civil war erupted, is detailed in here in a way that will pull you in and transport you into a world that you probably didn't hear of because of other political events (a la America bombing Iraq) happening during the same time. SSS doesn't sugarcoat anything. Everything is told with utter honesty and sometimes, the rawness can hurt and horrify in equal measure. The traditions she speaks of, the bloodbath that occurred as Somali killed Somali in the civil war, the extremely orthodox treatment of women - there's so much that will anger us. But how can we say anything? We just need to absorb. We need to learn. We need to understand. The onus isn't on SSS to educate anyone, but she does anyway. She tells us, in no uncertain terms, that everyone has struggles and horrors of their own. And she gave me a wide open glimpse into her life, one that is way different than what I know. I understand. I appreciate. I admire. The strength, the honesty, the joy of one's culture, the pain of unfair tradition, the loving of one's culture while accepting its faults, because no matter what, it will forever remain a part of who you are. Kudos, Shugri Said Salh!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cassidee Lanstra

    The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert is an enlightening memoir about Shugri’s nomadic life and is told in a style that replicates the Somali way of oral storytelling. It is fascinating and opens up a door into a lifestyle and culture that isn’t often featured in our mainstream literature. This book shows the stunning resilience of the nomadic women and is also part startling revelation of the life that Shugri and the women around her experienced. There’s many tense or heavy moments The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert is an enlightening memoir about Shugri’s nomadic life and is told in a style that replicates the Somali way of oral storytelling. It is fascinating and opens up a door into a lifestyle and culture that isn’t often featured in our mainstream literature. This book shows the stunning resilience of the nomadic women and is also part startling revelation of the life that Shugri and the women around her experienced. There’s many tense or heavy moments but they are crucial to the story at large. There’s a reckoning here of the life that Shugri’s known and the values she has been taught in comparison with her budding feminist ideals. Though there’s some pretty tough storylines in here (made all the more horrifying by the fact that they’re from someone’s actual life), there’s also amazing hope and strength in this novel. The fact that Shugri’s even here writing this story is a testament to the person that she is. Although I was fascinated by the author’s life, I might not be in the right headspace for a novel such as this one right now. The jarring storytelling style didn’t fully pull me in as much as I would have liked. That isn’t to say that it’s not a gorgeous book; it very much is. I think this will rank highly for many people and I think I will appreciate it even more on a reread at a time I’m able to enjoy reading about heavier subjects! It is always hard to rank memoirs because who am I to put a value on a person’s life story. Shugri’s life is full of so many trials and triumphs that it is truly an amazing tale. Full disclosure, something about my pregnancy brain at the moment is making reading tough tales hard –when I usually devour stuff like this! Thanks to Algonquin books for the review copy and for inviting me on this book tour!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    This book. WOW! So spellbinding and humbling. I just finished reading (and alternating listening along in the car thanks to LibroFM - the narrator, Waceke Wambaa, is absolutely fantastic!), and I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts to do this one justice. I feel so honored to be able to immerse myself in Shugri’s journey, and understand what life was like for her in Somalia as a nomad and, later, on her path from the desert to an orphanage, a refugee camp, and eventually to the USA. Thank This book. WOW! So spellbinding and humbling. I just finished reading (and alternating listening along in the car thanks to LibroFM - the narrator, Waceke Wambaa, is absolutely fantastic!), and I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts to do this one justice. I feel so honored to be able to immerse myself in Shugri’s journey, and understand what life was like for her in Somalia as a nomad and, later, on her path from the desert to an orphanage, a refugee camp, and eventually to the USA. Thank you so much for gifting us with the beauty and honesty of the story of your life, Shugri. Everyone should go get themselves a copy of this engrossing debut! Thanks to Algonquin Books and LibroFM for the advanced copies in exchange for my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    “Like an archeologist desperately excavating a forgotten world, I want to bring the details of my nomadic upbringing to life before it is lost forever. I don’t want the library of my past to die with me. The resilience I learned from surviving life in the desert carried me through the unexpected death of my young mother, being chased from my country by civil war, and defying my clan’s expectations after I dared to fall in love with a man from the “wrong” country.” The memoir of Shugri Said Salh “Like an archeologist desperately excavating a forgotten world, I want to bring the details of my nomadic upbringing to life before it is lost forever. I don’t want the library of my past to die with me. The resilience I learned from surviving life in the desert carried me through the unexpected death of my young mother, being chased from my country by civil war, and defying my clan’s expectations after I dared to fall in love with a man from the “wrong” country.” The memoir of Shugri Said Salh is remarkable. She has survived the nomadic life in the desert. She has run from civil war in her home country. She lived life as a refugee in Kenya. She has gained her freedom and independence by escaping to Canada. She is finally living a life of purpose, and hoping to leave a legacy of stories behind her to give to her children and her children’s children. She does not want her story to die with her. She wants her life and her culture to be remembered. “Somalia is known as the nation of poets, and creating poems is considered a sign of intelligence in our culture,” Shugri writes. “…poetry is a major form of communication among the nomads.” I was deeply enthralled by Shugri’s memoir and all that she faced as a young girl, leading up to her coming of age in the Somali culture. The nomadic lifestyle she endured during her childhood helped to shape and mold the very person she is today. Shugri details how living in a nomadic community built her, and how her resilience and independence came from watching her mighty ayeeyo (grandmother) and her commanding presence, which set the tone for her life. Shugri Said Salh, details life in Somalia, educating her readers about the culture and life as a daughter, in the Muslim faith. She discusses the burdens that are placed on young women in the Somali culture and how she navigated life in this very patriarchal/patrilineal society. We learn about how she developed a strong sense of self and self-reliance from her beloved grandmother. How she fought to not lose herself when troubles came her way. How she learned and navigated in foreign countries. How she continued to evoke the spirit of her nomadic grandmother whenever she came across trials she felt was unavoidable or harsh. I loved Shugri’s spirit of being able to figure things out and how she learned to move on and not dwell when things don’t go your way, but to use those shortcomings and deficiencies into something worthwhile and meaningful. Shugri has a powerful voice and story to share with the world, and her children should be proud to know that their mother is a strong and fearless elder. Salh recounts tales from her youth, even depicting the graphic FGM (female genital mutilation) that her culture embraced for young girls coming of age. She talks about how social standing for men is the highest form or only form of currency in their culture. How women are treated as inept in keeping their own virginity sacred. She discusses how extremism in her religion is destroying her country’s culture. There were several themes and topics I gathered from reading her memoir: - Feminism - Gender roles - Survival - Gratitude - Life cycle - Fearlessness - Bravery - Courage - Heroic women - Head of household - Death/grief - Nomadic lifestyle - Patriarchial/patrilineal society - Rape culture - Self-sufficiency/independence - Tradition/culture - Religion vs extremism Being a woman in the Somali culture, from Salh’s perspective sounds harsh and unfair. Women basically are responsible for everything. By the age of 16, young women are expected to know how to run a household efficiently. How women are only valued if she is obedient or subservient. How women had to be the burden carriers of their families honor. However, this culture shaped and molded Salh into an indomitable person, who strives towards honor and respect in every aspect of her life. I am in awe of her story, and I’m very thankful that others are able to read and learn about her life growing up in Somalia. Her rich detailed history allowed me to gain curiosity in this North African culture. I was curious about the civil war in Somalia in the 1990s, and how the country is doing right now. I was enthralled by the many anecdotes she told about how she matriculated into North America. I wanted to learn more about her grandmother’s life, and how she survived 90 years in the desert, searching and living day to day. I was saddened to learn about her mother’s death at a young age. I was curious to learn about how she found herself in an orphanage with some of her siblings. Salh’s storytelling abilities was very much appreciated, and I’m sure her mother and grandmother would be proud to hear her sharing her life and ensuring that their legacy doesn’t die out without it being recorded. “When an elder dies, a library is burned.” - an Old African Proverb “Keeping our stories alive provides us with a living history lesson.” Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world Shugri Said Salh. Your voice is needed! Thank you to Algonquin Books, Libro.FM, and the author, Shugri Said Salh for providing this book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Devon Reigh

    Thanks to @algonquinbooks for the ARC of this beautiful memoir by @shugrisalh! In The Last Nomad, the author, Shugri Said Salh, talks about how poets are important in Somali culture, and that is apparent in her storytelling. It is vivid and beautiful, without being overly descriptive. Shugri’s story is an amazing one, and one that is hard to imagine as someone who has lived an admittedly privileged life. It was amazing to read how she has lived through so many different situations and lifestyles Thanks to @algonquinbooks for the ARC of this beautiful memoir by @shugrisalh! In The Last Nomad, the author, Shugri Said Salh, talks about how poets are important in Somali culture, and that is apparent in her storytelling. It is vivid and beautiful, without being overly descriptive. Shugri’s story is an amazing one, and one that is hard to imagine as someone who has lived an admittedly privileged life. It was amazing to read how she has lived through so many different situations and lifestyles and pushed forward with such strength and perseverance. I tend to have a hard time with memoirs because the true stories of people’s lives don’t follow the same structure of the plot in a fictional story. They don’t lead to a climax and then have a satisfying ending but are rather a bunch of stories that work together to explain a person’s life and sometimes their personality. That’s the case in this one. It is a bunch of different stories of the author’s life as a nomad in conjuncture with her life in America. Each chapter almost read like a scrapbook, different stories placed together that all related to the overall topic of the chapter but didn’t always feel like they connected to each other. It is written well and the stories are all very interesting to read about, my only complaint is that that structure threw me off a bit at times. However, the book as a whole was beautiful, and is one I will definitely be recommending to memoir lovers! Trigger/Content Warnings: • mentions and brief descriptions of rape. • mentions of poverty, murder, war. • chapter 4 speaks in depth and graphically about female genital mutilation. I would recommend skipping the entire chapter if this may be triggering

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sunsettowers

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself. Shugri Said Salh has spun a powerful true tale of her life growing up in Africa, and her journey that eventually led her to have to flee her homeland. When Salh was six years old, she was sent as an extra daughter to assist her grandmother. Salh's grandmother was a nomad, among the last to truly live that way of life, before political upheaval and trul I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself. Shugri Said Salh has spun a powerful true tale of her life growing up in Africa, and her journey that eventually led her to have to flee her homeland. When Salh was six years old, she was sent as an extra daughter to assist her grandmother. Salh's grandmother was a nomad, among the last to truly live that way of life, before political upheaval and truly threatening practices changed everything Salh had ever known. Salh describes this time of her life, not only that of standing guard over her goats and listening to stories shared at night, but including the difficulties women faced-such as being blamed if a man assaulted them and thus took their virginity in the eyes of the community-and the torturous detail of Salh and her sister going through the rite of female circumcision. Salh weaves her truth to take readers with her as her father (a frightening and violent figure) makes a series of choices that bring heartache and danger to bear on the family, as they find themselves refugees at an orphange, then fleeing to whatever town they can find that has not been swallowed by war. Salh shows us how she continued to rise from the ashes, to find a fierceness and a light and a strength within herself, and she makes sure to honor all those who gave her hope along the way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ceylan (CeyGo)

    “An old African proverb says, When an elder dies, a library is burned.” This is a beautifully written memoir and I would highly recommend it if you enjoy memoirs, learning about new cultures , or even just a good story In the first 20 or so years of her life, Shugri Said Salh goes from loved daughter and granddaughter, to an abused daughter and later sister; from enjoying the nomadic life in the Somalian dessert, to growing up in a orphanage in Mogadishu, to a refuge in Kenya and then Canada . Al “An old African proverb says, When an elder dies, a library is burned.” This is a beautifully written memoir and I would highly recommend it if you enjoy memoirs, learning about new cultures , or even just a good story In the first 20 or so years of her life, Shugri Said Salh goes from loved daughter and granddaughter, to an abused daughter and later sister; from enjoying the nomadic life in the Somalian dessert, to growing up in a orphanage in Mogadishu, to a refuge in Kenya and then Canada . All through her ordeals, her family is her strength and at times the cause of her suffering - but there are no heroes or villains - just a family doing the best they can given the circumstances in which they find themselves ( whether that be culturally, socio economic, politically influenced etc.) Ms Salh has a very large extended family; I have to say it was hard keeping track of all the brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. I wish there had been a family tree! There is one chapter in the book that is primarily about FGM - female genital mutilation . I realize this is a very important chapter in the book, but for me it was very difficult to read . This topic generally just breaks my heart and that the author and her sisters experience had me in tears . Do not let his deter you from reading the story - I actually think it’s really important to learn more about this topic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leah M

    Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily. You can get this book and support indie bookstores here. CONTENT WARNING: death of a parent, female genital mutilation, blood, abuse, excrement, molestation, gun violence, murder, trauma, mention of rape I had just started reading this when the topic of reviewers not being able to identify with characters who differ from them resurfaced on bookstagram and book twitter. This is an issue tha Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily. You can get this book and support indie bookstores here. CONTENT WARNING: death of a parent, female genital mutilation, blood, abuse, excrement, molestation, gun violence, murder, trauma, mention of rape I had just started reading this when the topic of reviewers not being able to identify with characters who differ from them resurfaced on bookstagram and book twitter. This is an issue that I’ve always struggled with, mainly because I have a tendency to identify with the emotions that characters experience. And as well all know, emotions are universal. This idea stuck in my head the entire time that I listened to this audiobook — and while my lived experiences have absolutely NOTHING in common with the brave author of this book, I could identify with her emotions fully. As the author herself states early on: “Stories have always created understanding and connections between humans. In this era of great misunderstanding, I wish to help reign us back into our shared humanity.” In my opinion, she did exactly this with her story. The very first thing that I noticed was the way the narrator, Waceke Wambaa, was able to convey so much joy at simple things through the telling of this story. Her lyrical accent and strong delivery made her the perfect narrator for this story. It was written in such an incredibly vivid way that transported me to the deserts of Somalia, and left me feeling as though I was right there with the author as she experienced a life unlike anything I could ever imagine living. Shugri tells her story of growing up torn between her nomadic roots and living in villages and cities. She recounts tales of her childhood, and does so with humor and wit. I loved hearing about her mischievous ways, and I could just imagine her eyes sparkling as she cooked up her next scheme. There’s a lot of pain in her life, but there’s also so much joy. While most of the story takes place in the past, there are also some sections that talk about her life now and how different it is. I got the distinct sense that no matter how accustomed to her current life she became, she never took it for granted and stopped marveling over it. It brings a newfound sense of wonder to my own life and forced me to think about the things that I take for granted. When the author spoke about how storytelling is a tradition in Somalia, I could truly understand what she meant. Shugri Said Salh is a true storyteller in every sense of the word — crafting a tale I couldn’t put down, and making it so relatable. This is absolutely a book that shouldn’t be missed, and I honestly hope to read more by this amazing woman!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Another reviewer mentioned just peeking into the book to get a feel for it, and then becoming fully immersed. This is true--Shugri's writing is so clear and vivid and her experiences as a young girl living the nomadic life with her astonishing grandmother so absolutely alien, you too will read it in one sitting. Graphic, extremely graphic, in places, the book is honest about the culture of Shugri's homeland and its standards for women. Be prepared. Shugri describes the brutality of her intellect Another reviewer mentioned just peeking into the book to get a feel for it, and then becoming fully immersed. This is true--Shugri's writing is so clear and vivid and her experiences as a young girl living the nomadic life with her astonishing grandmother so absolutely alien, you too will read it in one sitting. Graphic, extremely graphic, in places, the book is honest about the culture of Shugri's homeland and its standards for women. Be prepared. Shugri describes the brutality of her intellectual father, the frightening experience of escaping to refugee camps as war tore apart her country, her experiences as an immigrant in Canada, and yet as a backdrop she holds dear the time spent as a little girl with her own herd of goats in the desert. Today she lives in California with her three daughters and her husband, who sounds amazing, and this seems crazy juxtaposed against the rest of her experiences. This is an incredible reading experience, especially for women, and Shugri's generosity in sharing her story is appreciated. Adult, for extremely graphic content.

  18. 4 out of 5

    M Moore

    This memoir is beautifully written, extremely candid and a powerful read. Salh's stories and reflections of her life in Somalia, the hardships of women and the harrowing tale of fleeing war create a captivating coming of age story that kept my attention from the first chapter. I loved learning more about the traditions and history of a country I knew little about and appreciated the narration giving the author's language life. If you enjoyed The Girl with the Louding Voice, I highly recommend th This memoir is beautifully written, extremely candid and a powerful read. Salh's stories and reflections of her life in Somalia, the hardships of women and the harrowing tale of fleeing war create a captivating coming of age story that kept my attention from the first chapter. I loved learning more about the traditions and history of a country I knew little about and appreciated the narration giving the author's language life. If you enjoyed The Girl with the Louding Voice, I highly recommend this one - especially as an audiobook! Thanks to Libro.fm and Workman Publishing for an ALC in exchange for an honest review. My reviews can also be seen at www.instagram.com/justonemoorebook.

  19. 5 out of 5

    noushareads

    One of the most beautiful and interesting books I’ve ever read in my life. Shugri must be such an incredible person — I wish we could be friends. Read this book today. It’s a privilege, a truly gift! Obs.: it should have came with animal slaughter advisory. I almost stopped reading the book. I got an ARC from Algoquin Books, so I am not sure if they final edition helps with that.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kriti | Armed with A Book

    The Last Nomad was a fast read for me. The first 60% of the book flew by. The desert landscape and the Somali culture reminded me of India in some ways. The last 40% described war times and Shugri’s experiences as a refugee and immigrant. These chapters were very impactful too and I realized that I was reading every word very carefully. As an immigrant myself, I connected with many of the struggles of moving to Canada. Taking the bus was a huge stress for me for a while too and with being home f The Last Nomad was a fast read for me. The first 60% of the book flew by. The desert landscape and the Somali culture reminded me of India in some ways. The last 40% described war times and Shugri’s experiences as a refugee and immigrant. These chapters were very impactful too and I realized that I was reading every word very carefully. As an immigrant myself, I connected with many of the struggles of moving to Canada. Taking the bus was a huge stress for me for a while too and with being home for the last year and a half with covid, I had forgotten those challenges. This is a beautiful book and I learned so much. If you are interested to know about the world, pick up this book. You’ll learn about a culture that you might not know a lot about, you will get to know experiences of refugees and immigrants. But most importantly, you will read about family, close-knit bonds that drive people to keep their loved ones together, to do everything they can to help them cross oceans and find a safer place, because home isn’t a safe place for all of us. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Find my full review on Armed with A Book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samir MD

    What a book

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Freeman

    A memoir such as Shugri Said Salh's is a great way to learn about cultures that feel like polar opposites from our own. Salh was born in Somalia to a father who was mostly traditional but who also believed in education for both boys and girls and a mother who grew up in a nomadic tribe until marrying at age 15. Salh, one of her father's 23 children, and a third or fourth daughter to her mother, was "given" to her nomadic grandmother around age 5. Salh describes both the beauty and the terrors of A memoir such as Shugri Said Salh's is a great way to learn about cultures that feel like polar opposites from our own. Salh was born in Somalia to a father who was mostly traditional but who also believed in education for both boys and girls and a mother who grew up in a nomadic tribe until marrying at age 15. Salh, one of her father's 23 children, and a third or fourth daughter to her mother, was "given" to her nomadic grandmother around age 5. Salh describes both the beauty and the terrors of that life but she fell in love with life as a nomad. After her mother's death several years later, Salh was taken back to the city and life became a series of transitions - from a poor village with a negligent step-mother to a middle class life with an older sister to life on the road during war to a refugee camp in Kenya and eventually to Canada as a refugee/immigrant. Salh doesn't mince words when describing the civil war or female circumcision but hers is ultimately an uplifting and hopeful story. Coming in August 2021.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    This is a fascinating account of the life of a young girl growing up in a nomadic family in Somalia. Reading like a novel, the author provides an accounting of her life beginning when she was six years old and is sent to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert. There she learns to herd goats and how to protect them from lions and hyenas. Then she writes of her life in Somali cities, escaping war-torn Somalia, life as a refugee in Kenya, then her journey to Canada and eventually to Califo This is a fascinating account of the life of a young girl growing up in a nomadic family in Somalia. Reading like a novel, the author provides an accounting of her life beginning when she was six years old and is sent to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert. There she learns to herd goats and how to protect them from lions and hyenas. Then she writes of her life in Somali cities, escaping war-torn Somalia, life as a refugee in Kenya, then her journey to Canada and eventually to California. She finds love and graduates from nursing school with honors. Filled with fascinating details of her culture, I was totally immersed in this amazing memoir. The book opens with the following – “I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their huts and belongings onto their most obedient camels and herded their livestock to a new home.” Shugri honors her ayeeyo (grandmother) whom she saw as “poetic, regal, and resilient.” She taught Sughri to honor herself, to see herself as important, and not to give in to the demands of men. She instilled in Sughri courage and confidence. Who Shugri is today was shaped by her loving ayeeyo. And while Shugri’s abusive father had his faults, he was a teacher and insisted that his daughters be educated. He taught them the adage that “if you educate a son, you educate one person, but if you educate a daughter, you educate the whole community.” I loved her sister Abshiro was also very brave - she took in all her siblings after their mother’s death and she stood up to men to protect her family. Shugri led a life of innocence in the Somali desert until she was eight years old when she underwent female genital mutilation. “In Somalia, the clitoris is blamed for all humanity’s troubles - the root of all evil, so to speak.” The procedure itself is horrifying alone, but I never realized the lifelong agony it caused. While life was extremely difficult, there were many moments of humor in her life – peeing on a lion in the bushes, finding that her red dress sexually aroused a camel, and her fear of escalators. I loved her beautiful description of life in Mogadishu before the war tore it apart – “Religion was practiced with kindness, and cultures were valued.” Like Afghanistan, Somalia went from being a country where people (particularly women) had rights and freedom to one where tyrants used the shield of religion to oppress and eventually kill half a million people. “On December 31, 1990, Somalia entered into full-blown war.” It became unsafe to leave their homes - food became scarce, clan turned against clan. Most of the world was unaware of their suffering because their focus was on Iraq. This was the time of Operation Desert Storm. In the end, she mourns the loss of the Somali culture and identity, even the nomadic way of life, to the restrictions of Wahhabism. She laments what she loves about her culture but also is brutally honest with what she sees as its hypocrisy. She is heartbroken by the violence inflicted by Somalis on Somalis. I was astounded by just how resilient Shugri is. She adapted quickly as life’s circumstances changed for her. I love learning about other cultures and am thankful to Shugri for helping me better understand the life of women in Somalia. I admire the strength and courage it took for her survival. But as she writes, “Survival is woven into the fabric of who I am.” “I am the last nomad…I am the last person in my direct line to have once lived like that, and now I feel like the sole keeper of my family’s stories.” I highly recommend this beautifully written and mesmerizing memoir. Thank you to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Libriamo3116

    Shugri Said Salh grew up in Somalia. After a brief time in her youth spent in the city, she was sent into the desert to live with her Ayeeyo, her grandmother, and Shugri learned how to live and survive in the harsh desert from her. Living as a nomad carries with it great risk, and great reward. Every day is a blessing, and generations of knowledge coalesce to inform almost every moment, particularly when the land and the sky both decide to dry up at the same time. Shugri's Ayeeyo would then guid Shugri Said Salh grew up in Somalia. After a brief time in her youth spent in the city, she was sent into the desert to live with her Ayeeyo, her grandmother, and Shugri learned how to live and survive in the harsh desert from her. Living as a nomad carries with it great risk, and great reward. Every day is a blessing, and generations of knowledge coalesce to inform almost every moment, particularly when the land and the sky both decide to dry up at the same time. Shugri's Ayeeyo would then guide their group, as well as their goats, to the next refuge for life. While this time in the desert was invaluable to Shugri, it was not meant to last, and Shugri is the last nomad in her family. Driven from Somalia by war, facing a new nomadic way of life as a refugee, Shugri put all of her Ayeeyo's wisdom to the test to find her way to a new home on another continent, and tells her story now so that her Ayeeyo, and the spirit behind her nomadic life, may live on in her written memory. Shugri Said Salh is an incredibly strong individual! Shugri's story is important, heartbreaking, educational, and meaningful. She presents to us in equal measure the positives and the negatives of living as a nomad, and the same for Somali culture as it is torn apart by war. Some of it is beautiful, and parts are downright ugly, or scary. I appreciated learning about this culture and the nomadic way of life, for its unveneered beauty as well as its harsh lessons. Equally beautiful is the thought that so much knowledge and wisdom is carried and safeguarded by elders like Shugri's Ayeeyo. When they are able to pass on their skills and hard-earned lessons, their way of life lives on. Yet, when war shatters all hope of a peaceful life, then families and communities and tribes are broken apart, and irreplaceable information and culture is gone forever. Shugri has shared as much as she can with the rest of us, and it is ardent and insightful. The Last Nomad is the story of one girl's life in one place and then another, first kept safe from the desert's heat by her grandmother's shadow, and then forced to face the world with only her resilience and memories to keep her safe. Recommended for readers who wish to learn about other cultures, who wish to learn about the impact of war on culture and society, and who wish to know more of the importance of family and generational knowledge in the face of terrible adversity. Thank you Algonquin Books for the gifted ARC!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    My knowledge of Somalia was less than scant and so, when I read about this new book, I had to have it, for a number of reasons. I've read other very interesting books about immigrant experiences, but they were by men who were better equipped to take on dangerous expeditions through unknown conditions. This Somali woman would have her very own cultural restraints working against her, in addition to fleeing a civil war. Her flight takes place around the time of Operation Desert Storm, which would My knowledge of Somalia was less than scant and so, when I read about this new book, I had to have it, for a number of reasons. I've read other very interesting books about immigrant experiences, but they were by men who were better equipped to take on dangerous expeditions through unknown conditions. This Somali woman would have her very own cultural restraints working against her, in addition to fleeing a civil war. Her flight takes place around the time of Operation Desert Storm, which would be why the news from Somalia was left lacking. Shugri's story begins with her early childhood tending goats in the desert while living with her grandmother who was the lynchpin for the brave and resilient woman she would become. We follow her in her time living with her family in Mogadishu and other places where she was sent to live, not by her own choice, but according to the demands of her father and the needs of her family. Fortunately for her, her father was a rarity in that he wanted his children to be educated. Both boys and girls. On the other hand, as a girl, there were excruciating differences and hardships that defied reason and knowledge. Such as female genital mutilation, of which there are varying degrees, and the Somali version is the most disastrous. Although long overdue, I learned a lot about Somalia and its culture and recent history. Most memorable, though, is Shugri herself; her bravery, fierce determination, and love of her culture that makes her story so compelling. I kept reminding myself that she was just a child, and then a teenager, while this takes place. Now, she has a far different life in California, by way of Kenya and Canada. She lived a whole lifetime before she was 18 years old! I will donate the book to my library and hope that others will read it and be as impressed and inspired as I am.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Antipodean Bookclub

    “An old African proverb says, when an elder dies, a library is burned. I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds. I am the last person in my immediate family who holds this particular library of knowledge. As the years pass, the sense of urgency I feel about sharing my experiences with my children and the world grows” . . . I’ve become more and more fond of memoir as a way of experiencing life through the lens of someone else’s existence 💫 Shugri Said Salh gifts us a glimp “An old African proverb says, when an elder dies, a library is burned. I am not yet an elder, but I do feel like a portal between two worlds. I am the last person in my immediate family who holds this particular library of knowledge. As the years pass, the sense of urgency I feel about sharing my experiences with my children and the world grows” . . . I’ve become more and more fond of memoir as a way of experiencing life through the lens of someone else’s existence 💫 Shugri Said Salh gifts us a glimpse into her life as a young girl growing up in a nomadic Somali tribe. Sent at the age of the six from her family in the city to live with her grandmother, her beloved Ayeeyo, in the desert, she experienced a life governed by the seasons and the perpetual search for water and adequate grazing for livestock. She talks about the difficulties and dangers of that life, but also some of its beauties including a strong tradition of storytelling Female Genital Mutilation was practised in Shugri’s tribe and she describes her experience of FGM in heart-breaking detail. There is a graphic content warning at the start of that passage. Shugri shows huge resilience and bravery time and time again over the course of her story. Escaping from civil war in Somalia she fled first to Kenya and then to Canada and finally the United States where she now practises as a nurse Shugri truly is a portal between two worlds, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to read her story and to have experienced, in a small way, a completely different culture and way of life. Huge thanks to Algonquin Books for my gifted copy and for including me on the blog tour for The Last Nomad; Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Carter

    THE LAST NOMAD: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert, by Shugri Said Salh tells the story of her upbringing: life with her nomadic grandmother, her abusive father, her time in a foreign-run orphanage, her somewhat privileged life with her sister in the capital of Mogadishu, her exodus when the war came and her emigration to Canada. I've read very few books by Somali writers and adore memoir, so I was thrilled to receive an advanced review copy. I immediately identified with Salh in the prologue, whe THE LAST NOMAD: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert, by Shugri Said Salh tells the story of her upbringing: life with her nomadic grandmother, her abusive father, her time in a foreign-run orphanage, her somewhat privileged life with her sister in the capital of Mogadishu, her exodus when the war came and her emigration to Canada. I've read very few books by Somali writers and adore memoir, so I was thrilled to receive an advanced review copy. I immediately identified with Salh in the prologue, when she described her desire to share her story as a way to create understanding and connection between humans. Throughout, the author relates her own story to her context: clan structures, the nomads' resilience in a desperately harsh environment, their oral poetry and storytelling traditions, the role of girls and women in society, including the age-old practice of female circumcision and her own experience of it. The author's writing style is light and amicable, as she tosses in picaresque asides. (Like how not to confuse the Somali word orgi with the English orgy. :) As the book wore on, I found I wanted to know more about a war that displaced millions and devastated a country, as well as the author's unique insights and personal truths. I would have felt more satisfied if the author had gone much deeper in these areas. That said, the author herself offered the key to experiencing this book when she described how even storytelling in her culture is nomadic: it offer a trickle and not a watershed. This is exactly what The Last Nomad delivered, and knowing this was a deliberate style of storytelling, I came to appreciate it more fully.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda McCutcheon

    "Survival is woven into the fabric of who I am." The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh is not just a memoir about survival but about transformation. Reading her life story left me not only appreciating my life but my ancestors as well. The author shows we are all here because of where the past has led us through trials, tribulations and forks in the road. At 6 years old Shugri is sent to learn of the nomadic life in the Somalian Desert of her ancestors with her grandmother. She enjoys the camaraderie "Survival is woven into the fabric of who I am." The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh is not just a memoir about survival but about transformation. Reading her life story left me not only appreciating my life but my ancestors as well. The author shows we are all here because of where the past has led us through trials, tribulations and forks in the road. At 6 years old Shugri is sent to learn of the nomadic life in the Somalian Desert of her ancestors with her grandmother. She enjoys the camaraderie of herding sheep, cooking campfires and stories of the past. She even feels pride when she participates in the rite of passage for "respectable" girls of female circumcision. These are the ways of her people. Later she understands the brutality and health risks of this ritual. She eventually returns to her family where her father, a teacher believes in education and says my favorite quote, "If you educate a son, you educate one person, but if you educate a daughter, you educate the whole community." When her country is in a civil war her family flees to Kenya, then Canada and then the United States. Surviving the modern world with its technology and noise, so much noise, was almost as harrowing as the risks in the desert. Throughout her journey, this writer, expresses her need to not just survive this world but to thrive and now as a nurse and published author we get to experience and revel in her success. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via #NetGalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natalyn Houk

    Shugri Said Salh is sent at age six to live with her nomadic grandmother, traversing the East African desert. She learns to love the animals and lifestyle of nomadic life, but war causes her to be the last of her family to learn the nomad life. As Shugri Said Salh avoids the violence that tears through her homeland, she finds herself a nomad in her new life, as well. “The Last Nomad” is a brave story of life, traditions, and change. This memoir is a remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s d Shugri Said Salh is sent at age six to live with her nomadic grandmother, traversing the East African desert. She learns to love the animals and lifestyle of nomadic life, but war causes her to be the last of her family to learn the nomad life. As Shugri Said Salh avoids the violence that tears through her homeland, she finds herself a nomad in her new life, as well. “The Last Nomad” is a brave story of life, traditions, and change. This memoir is a remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s determination and bravery. As she transitions between nomadic life and city life she finds herself to be resilient and brave. But there are some changes that she can’t brave her way through. War, changing social climates, and religious movements swirl around her life and make her new nomadic life out of a different kind of necessity. I enjoyed the open honesty Shugri Said Salh speaks with when sharing her life. She shares the good and the bad with clarity. Her vast life experiences allow her now to look back in fondness on her time in the desert, but also allow her to see the good and bad of her current life. If you are looking to explore another culture and find deeper understanding, this book is an excellent read. Shugri Said Salh’s story is inspiring and unique. I gave the book 4 stars! Thanks to Algonquin books for including me in their blog book tour and pairing with NetGalley to send me an eArc in exchange for my honest review!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Kiley | memoirs.of.a.booknerd

    The Last Nomad is a beautiful memoir by @shugrisalh detailing her early life living with her nomadic grandmother in the deserts of Somalia and later fleeing the county - first to Kenya, then To Canada - as civil war ravaged her homeland. Salh lives up to her family's repuation for sharing captivating oral history, infusing beauty and wonder into the Somali desert. Her story made me appreciate the beauty in a simpler way of life, unencumbered by the restrictions of modern society. Not that life in The Last Nomad is a beautiful memoir by @shugrisalh detailing her early life living with her nomadic grandmother in the deserts of Somalia and later fleeing the county - first to Kenya, then To Canada - as civil war ravaged her homeland. Salh lives up to her family's repuation for sharing captivating oral history, infusing beauty and wonder into the Somali desert. Her story made me appreciate the beauty in a simpler way of life, unencumbered by the restrictions of modern society. Not that life in there wasn't without its hardships. The sections on sexual assault and female genital mutilation were particularly difficult to read and I encourage everyone to consider the trigger warnings before reading. The author so kindly shared these warnings in the book before the relevant section on female genital mutilation. Salh's story was also a wonderful reminder that everyone has a life history that we know nothing of that has shaped who we are. We may be removed from our homes and move on to new chapters in our lives, but will always carry a piece of our beginnings with us. I recommend this one to anyone looking for exquisitely written memoir about women with inspiring strength and fortitude. Thanks to @algonquinbooks and @librofm for my gifted copies 💕 I highly recommend incorporating the audiobook on this one as the narrator was spectacular!

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