Nov 28

Freedom

Freedom – The Story of My Second Life

a memoir by Malika Oufkir

(4.5/5)

Freedom CoverAutobiography
First Published in 2006
Publisher: Miramax Books
Set in: France, USA

Freedom is the sequel to Oufkir’s Autobiography Stolen Lives

Click to buy Freedom by Malika Oufkir (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir’s intensely moving account of her twenty years imprisoned in a desert jail in Morocco, was a surprise international bestseller.

In her highly anticipated follow-up, Malika reflects on the life she lived before and during incarceration and how dramatically the world had changed when she emerged. Malika was born into extreme privilege as the daughter of the king of Morocco’s closest aide, and she grew up in the palace as companion to the Moroccan princess. But in 1972, her life of luxury came to a crashing halt. Her family was locked away for two decades. After a remarkable escape, Malika and her family returned to the world they’d left behind, only to find it transformed.

Living for the first time as an adult, Malika writes candidly about adjusting to the world – from negotiating ATMs to the excesses of shopping malls, to falling in love and learning to be intimate. When she is finally free, motherhood becomes crucial to Malika’s ability to fully live her life: she becomes legal guardian to her niece, then she and her husband adopt a baby boy from Morocco. Full of insights and piercing observations, as well as humour, Freedom is as masterful and thought provoking as Oufkir’s astonishing debut.

Malika Oufkir was born in 1953 and divides her time between Miami and Marakesh.

Review Update: 1 June 2010

I read these 2 memoirs the wrong way round. I read Freedom before Stolen Lives. After reading Stolen Lives, I now understand emotionally what I understood only intellectually whilst reading Freedom. I have a renewed empathy for Malika and her family. Read these books in the right order. Especially read Stolen Lives.

Click here to read my review of Stolen Lives

Picture 3My Book Review:

I should have read Stolen Lives before reading Freedom. But I didn’t. Stolen Lives chronicles Malika’s 20 years in prison, while Freedom is about her experience of life after prison. I should have read it in the right order, and understandably, it took me a little while to catch up. So, although I understood intellectually that being imprisoned for 20 years from the age of 19 with the rest of your innocent family (her youngest brother was 3 years old), is a terrible thing and would undoubtedly have potentially irreversible consequences, it took me a lot of time to understand emotionally how Malika came to be a frightened woman, unable to touch the abundant produce on the shelves of French supermarkets. I naïvely expected that after years of depravation, one would naturally gorge on the rainbow of delights available at your fingertips.

In the first couple of chapters, I began to feel guilty for not understanding the reactions and details of this woman. Guilty, because this is a true account, and you cant just close the book and place it back on your shelf like you would fiction that you ‘couldn’t get into’. I kept reading, and I quickly immersed myself into the mindset of Malika who really was discovering freedom and the modern world for the first time as an adult.

Her insights are striking. The busy, cluttered, automated and free world that we are so used to was both amazing and terrifying for Malika. Things we take for granted, like censor taps, paying using a credit card and the ability to walk past a policeman without fear, are baffling and difficult for Malika to comprehend. You see a woman who has been through more hardship than we can imagine as a mouse or a wide eyed deer ready to bolt at any sigh of danger.

As the reader I felt a sense of triumph on behalf of Malika every time she managed to conquer her demons and take truly brave steps forward in her new life.

Reading about Malika’s experience redefined my notion of bravery and courage. I would have Hollywood-ly assumed a woman released would embrace her freedom with vigour. But in truth, and in accordance with human nature, baby steps are required to step into this frightening vast new world that does not posses the controlled limits of a cell.

I haven’t read Stolen Lives yet (I have just placed a reservation for it at the library), but I know through Freedom that Malika is a brave woman whose fragility, guts and truthful personal revelations will inspire and humble any reader.

x Julie

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