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

Title: Don't Tell Me You're Afraid
Author: Giuseppe Catozzella
Year Published: 2018

Genre: Adult fiction (based on a true story)
Pages: 275
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map): Somalia, Ethiopia, China, and Libya

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Based on a remarkable true story, an unforgettable Somali girl risks her life ont eh migrant journey to Europe to run in the Olympic Games.

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 lives 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 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 the athletes like Veronica Campbell-Brown brings the Olympic stadium to its feet.

Samia sets her sights on the 2012 Olympic 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.

Review: I read this review about a week ago on Burmuda Onion's blog and had to go out and get the book right away. This is the type of story I love: sports underdog, life underdog, going against all the odds, and some triumph along the way.

Yes, this is a novel, but really it's non-fiction. Does that make sense? It is a novel based on the true life story of the Somali Olympic runner, Samia. Don't look her up before you read this book; you need to let the story unfold as it happens rather than knowing what happens to her along the way. This story is full of emotion, grit, and determination that is Samia. It will make you cry (more than once) and cheer and feel so grateful for what you have. Read this book.

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