Monday, July 25, 2016

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

Title: Don't Tell Me You're Afraid 
Author: Giuseppe Catozzella
Format: ARC
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publish Date: August 2, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "At eight years of age, Samia lives to run. She shares her dream with her best friend and neighbor, Ali, who appoints himself her "professional coach." Eight-year-old Ali trains her, times her, and pushes her to achieve her goals. For both children, Samia's running is the bright spot in their tumultuous life in Somalia. She is talented, brave, and determined to represent her country in the Olympic Games, just like her hero, the great Somali runner Mo Farah.

For the next several years, Samia and Ali train at night in a deserted stadium as war rages and political tensions continue to escalate. Despite the lack of resources, despite the war, and despite all of the restrictions imposed on Somali women, Samia becomes a world-class runner. As a teenager, she is selected to represent her country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She finishes last in her heat at the Games, but the sight of the small, skinny woman in modest clothes running in the dust of athletes like Veronica Campbell-Brown brings the Olympic stadium to its feet.

Samia sets her sights on the 2012 Games in London. Conditions in Somalia have worsened, and she must make the arduous migrant journey across Africa and the Mediterranean alone. Just like millions of refugees, Samia risks her life for the hope of a better future."

My Two Cents:

"Don't Tell Me You're Afraid" is the novelization of the life of Samia Yusuf Omar, a Somali runner who competed in the 2008 Olympics and had her eyes set on attending the 2012 Olympics as a better, more competitive runner. Unfortunately, the story takes a turn for the worst when Samia is trying to escape her war-torn country as a refugee. This is an incredibly powerful book that had me cheering and crying! A perfect pick for the lead up to this year's Olympics, this book sheds light on the strength of the human spirit as well as the horrible humanitarian situation in Somalia.

Before reading this book, I had never heard of Samia before but after reading the book, I had a very difficult time seeing how her plight is not more well known. The book covers from her very young life as a girl training to run with her childhood best friend by her side in a place that is constantly under attack. I loved the way that the author wrote the book from Samia's point of view, which really allowed me to get into the story.

As a keen follower of world events, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp on what was happening in Somalia but this book shed a lot of light for me. It showed me just how wide spread and invasive the violence and terror of Al Shabaab was and still is in Somalia. It was very difficult to read these parts of the book!

This book was a difficult read due to the subject matter. The author uses Samia as a vehicle to give a human face to the plight faced by so many in Somalia. This was such a good story that ran me through so many different emotions. I know this is one that I will be recommending a lot!  


  1. Excellent review. This sounds really intriguing and I've added it to my TBR!

  2. This sounds like a major must-read! Added it!


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