In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham swept through the Middle East, threatening the lives of women, children, and millions of people already clinging to life after decades of conflict. This is the incredible story of Susan, an Iranian woman caught in the middle of that war, trapped not only by the terrorists at her doorstep but also by her nationality, her gender, and her innocence. This is a haunting account of war and desperation, taking the reader on a journey through one woman’s fight for freedom.
Targeted Age Group:: The book is suited for a general audience of 16 upwards.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The pain of my past and the feeling of responsibility to other human beings, especially women like me. We can’t survive alone; we exist for each other.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I chose most of the characters from the true stories or people I know or knew them.
“What way? You’re not from this place, from this life. You have no idea where you are. Where do you plan to go in this desert once you jump out with no food and no water? The only living things out there are things that want you dead.”
Susan knew she was right and she tried to think carefully about her choices.
Malika looked Susan in the eye. “Worse than death, this area has people who are thirsty for a woman like you.”
Susan looked over at Heja, who was staring out the slit in the fabric and watching the hills roll by. “Hey, Heja. Come look here.” She motioned with her hand. “Can you see outside? Can you tell where we are?” Susan noticed Rima straining herself trying to hear what Susan was saying but it was clear she couldn’t make out the words.
“Uh, yeah. It’s the desert.”
“I know.” Susan rolled her eyes. “I mean, do you think we’re in Iraq still, or Syria?”
“Well we’ve been on the way for hours.” He looked at his watch. “Yea, we’ve got to be in Syria by now.” He shifted uncomfortably; his leg having fallen asleep. “We’re heading straight for the heart of evil, straight to Da’esh. I don’t know if you can see from where you are but we aren’t on the road anymore. Haven’t been for a while. We’re driving across the open desert. Looks like we’re heading straight west.”
Susan stared intently at Heja. She wasn’t sure if she should share her idea with him. “Do you want to escape together?” She blurted it out without thinking.
“Escape?” Heja breathed deeply as though the utterance itself was a crime. “That word has the same definition as capture right now.”
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MOJGAN AZAR was born in Iran and lived most of her adult life in Iraq. She was living in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014 when the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham swept through the area, displacing millions and trapping Mojgan in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Her harrowing experiences have inspired her writings, and for the first time she is making that story known to the world.