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The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  159 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
When Soraya Miré was thirteen years old, the girls on the playground would taunt her, saying she could not play with them—not as long as she walked with three legs. Confused and hurt, she went to her mother, who mysteriously responded that the time had come for Soraya to receive her gift. Miré too soon discovers the horror of the “gift,” female genital mutilation (FGM), wh ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 29, 2011 AvidReader47 rated it really liked it
The Girl with Three Legs by Soraya Mire is a very disturbing account of living with FGM (female genital mutilation). Soraya grew up in Somali where she is constantly taunted by her classmates as "the girl with three legs." Not knowing what this meant, she asks her mother and older sisters. Soraya's mother decides at the age of 13 that Soraya should receive "her gift." Thinking that she was going shopping for a new dress, her mother takes her to "the man in white" and they cut and seal up her fem ...more
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
The Girl With Three Legs is a heartbreaking memoir by Soraya Mire of her experience with female genital mutilation (FGM) as a thirteen year old girl in Somalia. Mire not only shares her experiences as a child in Somalia but also the physical and emotional scars left by the mutilation. Eventually Mire was forced into marriage with an abusive husband. In spite of these devastating circumstances, Mire found the courage to move to America, start a new life, and eventually film a documentary about th ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Danielle rated it liked it
This book is the true story of one Somali woman's fight against female circumcision. She recounts her own painful experiences of being circumcised and forced into a marriage against her will. She shares how she escapes from that situation and winds up in the United States where she begins to advocate for the end of female circumcision and works to make a documentary about the subject called "Fire Eyes". In the process she hooks up with some very famous people, which is kind of an incredible stor ...more
Book Review originally published here:

This book was an eye-opener. Soraya was thirteen years old when girls started teasing her about walking around on three legs. When she asked her mother, she took her to the man in white, who mutilated Soraya’s female organs. The book talks about the pain she suffered afterward, and about how girls’ rights were violated every day in a traditional Somali family. The ritual of mutilation was horrifying, and reading about
Social  Good Moms
Feb 05, 2014 Social Good Moms rated it really liked it
Female genital mutilation or FGM for short is one of the most horrific crimes against girls and women in the world. According to the World Health Organization over 100 million women and girls live with the adverse effects of FGM, a traditional practice where a girl’s external genitalia are removed. The pain is excruciating oftentimes performed without anesthesia by older women in a village and according to traditional customs. Girls are then sewn up and a tiny hole is all that remains – tiny eno ...more
Dec 26, 2016 Trena rated it it was amazing
A shocking book about a topic that we need to know about.
Feb 28, 2012 Jimmie rated it liked it
Soraya Miré suffered such a complicated infibulation (or female genital mutilation, FGM) when she was a young girl in Somalia that pain followed her for years and years afterward. As a young woman, she moved to Europe to attend college, only to find out she'd essentially been sold to her first cousin Yusuf as a wife. Enduring even more pain and abuse, she ran away and eventually landed in Los Angeles, where she used every resource available to her to put together a documentary about FGM that ope ...more
Oct 11, 2011 Terrie rated it it was ok
5 stars for what the author tried to convey. 5 stars for what she did with her life. 2 stars for how she wrote about it.

Soraya Mire's true account of her life, being born into a wealthy family in Somalia, at the age of 13 she was taken by her mother to receive her "gift." This gift was the Islamic custom of all women- Female Genitalia Mutilation (FGM) to make her more appealing for a husband and to control her sexual urges. After suffering for many years with the effects, both physical and psych
Jennifer Margulis
Aug 11, 2014 Jennifer Margulis rated it it was amazing
This book stopped my heart. It kept me up until three in the morning. It changed my life.

It is the true life story of Soraya Miré, whose mother told her she was going to give her a "gift," when she was thirteen. From a big noisy family in Somalia, Soraya was so happy to be out alone shopping with her mom. She thought she was getting a new dress.

Instead her mother brought her to a doctor and helped hold her down while her clitorus was excised and her labia were sewn tightly together.

Her gift was
Jenn (Booksessed)
Jun 21, 2011 Jenn (Booksessed) rated it really liked it
I don’t know how I can do this book justice in a review. It’s one that if I’m ever asked “What’s it about?” I think the only accurate answer I could give is “Read the book.” But I’ll try my best.

This is a book that if you’re a woman or you’ve ever loved a woman, will make you cry. It tackles the issue of female genital mutilation, which is still practiced in many cultures of the world. It was at times a hard book to get through, but there was no way I could not finish this book. I cried numerous
Jul 25, 2011 Joemmama rated it really liked it
Somalia was a country in upheaval. Soraya was a child with friends who would not play with her because they said she had three legs. Unable to understand, she turned to the person she trusted most, her mother.Promising her a "gift" at 13, her mother took her to a stranger, a man, to be mutilated. (genital mutilation) Her female parts were cut off and she was sewn up, only to be opened by her future husband.

It was part of the culture, and was thought to keep girls from getting wild, and making th
Aug 31, 2011 Mari rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Can I say this... I'm so glad I decided to read this book. The author writes her story without gruesome detail but enough to express the pain she endured, for being born a girl.

After having her female parts 'cut off' at age thirteen, she is sewn up... only to be opened by her future husband. To avoid being graphic... imagine the hygiene issues this creates once a month.

As part of their culture, this 'gift' makes girls more attractive to potential husbands who are chosen for them. In Soraya's st
Feb 27, 2013 Amanda rated it liked it
I admit-I picked up this book because the cover and the title intrigued me. I had no idea what this story would entail. If I had, I probably would not have picked it up, but I'm glad I did. It was interesting-if horrifying-and made me aware of human-rights issues I'd never even considered before.

This book is about FGM-Female Genital Mutilation. The book is very well written but that's part of what makes it so horrific. Soraya's words bring each scene to life in such a manner that I had nightmare
Soraya Mire is an inspiration. She has endured unimaginable cruelty and yet has risen above and become stronger because of it. Even better, she campaigns to end it. In this book you will follow her life from abuse to her relentless attempts to tell her story and her unfazed determination to educate her fellow countrymen on the barbarity of the practice they believe should be upheld because women are their "property".

This is a gripping book, in fact my only complaint was that sometimes it felt to
Aug 12, 2014 Jeannette rated it liked it
Interesting memoir, but the writing lacked color or depth. It was a lot of "I said, I saw, I experienced"--whole lotta telling.

That said, it should be a must-read for content alone. Soriya grew up in a traditional Somali family. That meant enduring genital mutilation at age 13. Horrific enough on its own, but imagine having it done w/no anesthesia or pain meds while your own mother held you down. When she experiences infection after infection that basically drives her mad, her mother ignores do
Apr 26, 2012 Patty rated it liked it
This was an interesting look at the horrific practice of female genital mutilation. I felt that the author did a good job of detailing the pain and suffering that this practice causes. She has an amazingly strong spirit and I admire her for working so hard to end the practice even though it has alienated her from her family and culture. I think the book would have been better if she had left out the details about her sex therapy (masturbation) but understand that she sees that as a big part of h ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Samantha rated it liked it
Took me quite a long time to finish this book as her style of writing in the beginning made it hard to stay interested. She jumps from topic to topic and moves all over the place. Once she actually remained on the topic of female circumcision/female genital mutilation and her recovery from this major event in her life, my interest increased tremendously. It is not as graphic as I thought it would be. There is a decent amount of Somali history and culture included that helps one to understand why ...more
May 14, 2013 Jeannette rated it liked it
Hard to choose a genre for books like this. It's a memoir certainly. But more so it's about female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM) as the author would describe what was done to her and millions of other girls. Having lived for three decades around people in Africa who practice FGM, I have a long term interest in the subject. I read whatever I can find and some books are better than others. The writing in this one was irritating and the dialogue very off putting, but the dedicatio ...more
Norma Wright
Dec 12, 2011 Norma Wright rated it really liked it
The Girl with Three Legs is a true story where the author, Soraya Miré, weaves a dramatic chronicle of the personal challenges she overcame, of how women in Somalia accept physical abuse through generations as if it were the norm, and a testament to the empowerment of women At age thirteen years old, Mire discovers the horror of the "gift," female genital mutilation (FGM), whereby a young girls' healthy organs are chopped off.

Miré reveals what it means to grow up in a traditional Somali family,
Jul 17, 2011 Angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone reading on women's rights, genital mutilation, feminism
The publisher provided this book for review purposes.

Female genital mutilation is something that is so inconceivable for me since I grew up here in America. Soraya makes it incredibly real in her book The girl with three legs. I found myself emotionally entranced by her descriptions of life with her family. It was easy to understand how she could love her mother after doing such a thing since she was able to describe how her mother was forced into the same type of relationship. I found myself c
Mar 09, 2015 Ashley rated it really liked it
A powerful story capable of opening up our eyes to systemic and cultural injustice. I think I was expecting a little more of the global conversation about FGM to be a part of the novel, and while it wasn't closed off, it was more about her personal journey. That's allowed in a memoir though; that probably should have been what I expected.
Miré is speaking out as a former victim, the most impactful testimony for change that there can be. Her honest writing is transformative and thought-provoking.
Apr 28, 2015 Lejla rated it really liked it
This book inspired me, it changed me! Soraya Mire's courage and persistence are to be envied. She went from being a curious but sheltered little girl, betrayed by her mother and abused by her arranged marriage husband to being a relentless activist, driving 3 days to meet Oprah to get her movie about FGM financed. I can't even describe properly the way this book left me feeling afterwards. It is an empowering read and informational for those who've never been informed of female genital mutilatio ...more
Tuscany Bernier
Sep 27, 2015 Tuscany Bernier rated it it was amazing
This was an amazingly written autobiography that kept me engaged from start to finish. It raised a lot of questions for me on many levels but I always felt it was important to keep reading. Her story is her own and while it is perhaps not for the faint of heart or those offended by the mention of female genitals, I would recommend it to everybody else. It is a personal story of transformation, perseverance, and how the journey of self-love can take quite a long time.

Christine Palau
Sep 22, 2011 Christine Palau rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! And yet, so terrible. What Soraya Mire has done to fight FGM is truly an inspiration. Mire's voice is earnest and lovable. She's someone you want to be friends with. You feel like she's talking directly to you. You'll choke up, laugh, and be very angry while reading this story. That's the point; you will be moved to act and stand up for what you believe in.
Carrie Shaurette
Sep 04, 2012 Carrie Shaurette rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
Telling her own story, Mire writes a heartfelt account detailing the horrors of female genital mutilation. This book is hard to read at times, both because of the graphic content and the sometimes meandering narrative, but it tells an important story of an injustice that is still going on today.

May 17, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Excellent memoir that takes the reader through the hell of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the journey of one woman to not only reclaim her body and her sexuality, but work to help others who have survived this abuse and prevent the next generation from being subject to this terrible assault on female children.
May 24, 2012 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Intense. Graphic. I could not put it down, while the situations described are unbelievably horrendous, she somehow manages to find a silver lining that doesn't leave you feeling completely hopeless.
Kristyn Pittman
Jan 16, 2013 Kristyn Pittman rated it really liked it
Warning! Make sure you are sitting down while reading this. Even as a librarian I literally passed out in the aisle of the library while reading the graphic depiction of her trauma.
Sherry Muehlfarth
Aug 22, 2013 Sherry Muehlfarth rated it liked it
Extremely interesting topic, fairly well written and easy to read. Found it strange that my library didn't own one copy!
Iimane Aissa
Iimane Aissa rated it it was ok
Dec 28, 2012
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The recipient of the UN's Humanitarian Award, Soraya Mir is a human rights activist, a filmmaker, and a spokesperson against female genital mutilation. She wrote, directed, and produced the film Fire Eyes, the definitive film on FGM. Mir appeared in The Vagina Monologues in London, on Broadway, in Madison Square Garden, and in Los Angeles; she has been featured on Oprah and other shows; and articl ...more
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“I was proud to be in America, not just because here I found my voice but because the country made me the woman I am today, a woman with a fierce voice, a woman without shame. I grew up hearing that I was stubborn, a troublemaker, hard headed, and not good enough. But I had been wise enough to look in the mirror. I liked what I was, and I said to myself, I am worthy, lovable, and good enough.” 8 likes
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