The Girl Who Swallowed Fire
Iyatunde Cole, Relight House, Memoir/Biography/Autobiography
The clear thesis of this book is that sexual assaults and atrocities towards women do not just occur en masse in United States. It is an epidemic happening everywhere. The author, Iyatunde Cole, who grew up in Fourahbay opens early with this: “my Freetown, my Sierra Leone. And these are the things I look forward to whenever I visit Sierra Leone, a county I’m very proud of and grateful to have been born and raised there; where I call home when I speak of home.”
What makes this statement about home so profound is that, although she has a great affection for Sierra Leone, inside her actual house is where years of sexual abuse by the hands of a family friend occurred. Home is supposed to be a safe dwelling, but instead it was the opposite. These rapes began at the age of 14, and the author plainly and eloquently walks the reader through her life and the impact this violation had on her as whole.
What makes this book work is that Cole imparts to the reader an honest account of her life choices and doesn’t conceal her truths. She is transparent. In fact, her openness and candid language will likely provide another woman, with a similar story, an assurance that she is not weird, disgusting, or cursed. That feels like Cole’s agenda: “No matter what happened to you, you still have in you all it takes to be all that God want you to be. In your genes right now are His favor, His talent, His Wisdom, and His ability. You are fully equipped(pg.135).” For Cole, a huge part of healing is being able to see someone with a similar story rise out of an abyss and ascend perfumed with God’s love.
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