‘Yasmeen’ Created and Written by: Saif A. Ahmed. Artist: Fabiana Mascolo
I kept scrolling down and weeping, reading this, unable to stop, fearing that my kid would come up behind me and stare at my screen and wonder why I was so emotional or upset about. (So, trigger warning.)
Not because the imagery is explicit, but because the drawings of women and children escaping Iraq in 2014 are too similar to what is going on right now in Afghanistan and my ten-year-old is, (or I want to shield him from this, I don’t know) too young to understand what I’m seeing represented here, in the superb hand of Fabiana Mascolo.
I believe that there are many things to be upset about, and one of them is the faith of young women in war struck countries. I think that we are confident enough on our borders and sanity but, sometimes, like Stephen King does, I fear for us.
Split between two periods in her life, Yasmeen is hands-down the most powerful graphic novel I have ever read about girl’s slavery and the ability to survive an 18-month period that clearly will divide your life in a harrowing before and after:
Between an age of peace and innocence and an age where all innocence has been lost; alongside the lives of young women around you, subjected to rape and torture until the impossible could happen and you could find an escape, finding refuge in another country.
Yasmeen was a happy 16-year-old when she was captured by ISIS. Her family: loving father, intelligent mother and youngest brother where at home when ISIS invaded Mosul, and thus where able to escape, but she was stranded. Her neighbor was killed in front of her eyes and then she was sold to slavery. Just like that. One minute she wanted to dress like a princess for her birthday party and the next minute the dresses where imposed to her by men.
Not only has this struggle left her a different person, but now that she is safe in America she cannot face her family, she is unable to connect to the things that she loved before. Yasmeen must go through a different kind of struggle as she tries to adjust to the normal life with her family as refugees in a small town in Iowa.
That is not all. I find that what helps her the most is her willingness to fight, to face down any man who wants to hurt a girl, and when exactly that happens in her small town, she does a very brave thing, standing up for an American girl whose naked pictures are doing the rounds in her High school.
Yasmeen not only goes home after home with her mother, confronting the parents of these young boys and forcing them to delete the pictures, but she also helps her friend to cope with her suicide attempt after the event.
Yasmeen tells her, as only a true warrior will do, that she also had faced the idea of suicide, but that they did not get to erase us women that easily- That they, the abusers, the bullies, can be punished and deserve to pay the price for their actions.
You see, women can fear attacks such as these in any country, bullying and abuse can come from any direction, but we can take care of each other. The compassion show throughout the book is a great highlight, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Since it contains violence and trigger things like suicide and rape (never overtly shown, always delicately portrayed, but it is a harsh story) I recommend caution, but would be comfortable reading this at a high school level and up.
‘Yasmeen’ is on sale online now and will be available as a complete printed story in November 30, 2021.
Publisher: Scout Comics
Publish Date: November 30, 2021
BISAC Categories: Literary Contemporary Women Religious
Featured image by Fabiana Mascolo, all images belong to Scout Comics