When she was fourteen, Jasvinder Sanghera was shown a photo of the man chosen to be her husband. She was terrified. She’d witnessed the torment her sisters endured in their arranged marriages, so she ran away from home, grief-stricken when her parents disowned her. Shame” is the heart-rending true story of a young girl’s attempt to escape from a cruel, claustrophobic world where family honour mattered more than anything — sometimes more than life itself. Jasvinder’s story is one of terrible oppression, a harrowing struggle against a punitive code of honour — and, finally, triumph over adversity.
I’ve been really drawn to non-fiction recently, and have picked up quite a lot of memoirs. Shame is about a Sikh woman, Jasvinder, who ran away from home in order to escape an arranged marriage and was then disowned by her family. All Jasvinder wanted was to be with the man she loved and to be able to have a relationship with her family but the two were mutually exclusive in the religion she was born in to.
Shame is really quite a shocking read at times, it’s very hard to read about how Jasvinder was treated in her early life by her parents, and then throughout her life by her siblings. I understand that it is part of the culture she lived in then but it is still very hard to understand how siblings can turn their back in such a way.
The stories that Jasvinder has shared in this book about other Sikh women are very shocking. I was horrified reading about her sister and what happened to her, and also the way that nothing could be done afterwards to try and help prevent it happening to other women.
The way that Jasvinder was so shunned by her community, even after she had married, was really uncomfortable to read. I found it incredible how Jasvinder found the inner strength to pick herself up time and time again and how determined she has been to make something of her life, and to give her children a better life than she had had.
Jasvinder is very open and honest in this book, she shares many aspects of her life even the ones that perhaps don’t show her in the greatest light. I really valued that honesty, it would have been easy for her to just write about the way she was treated by other people and not to mention her own actions. I think all the things that happened to Jasvinder and to her family, combined with the things that she herself did are what made her who she is now. I was in awe of her reading about how she worked so hard to set up a place for music women to get advice and help, and ultimately founded a place of safety where they could go. It’s such an incredible achievement and you can’t fail to be moved and inspired by this story.
Ultimately, this is a very inspiring read. Jasvinder worked hard to get an education despite all the odds and then she made it her mission in life to help other women who had experienced what she had. She has achieved such great things and is an incredible woman.
I rate this book 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.
Shame is out now and available from all good bookshops.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder via Book Bridgr in exchange for an honest review.