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Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  388 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Since the day she was scouted by a modeling agent while shopping at a London street fair when she was just nineteen, Alek Wek's life has been nothing short of a fantasy. When she's not the featured model in print campaigns for hip companies, or gracing the cover of Elle, she is working the runways of Paris, New York, and Milan to model for the world's leading designers, in ...more
ebook, 232 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published September 2007)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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I noticed that journalists often liked to say that I'd been discovered in 'the bush,' in Africa. As if I had been a primeval innocent afoot in the forest when the great model agent plucked me from the muck and tamed me, without destroying my savage beauty. I mean, I was wearing jeans in Crystal Palace Park when I was 'discovered.' The closest bush was a well-manicured azalea. I am African, but I am not primitive. (page 159)

Wek handily puts paid to more than a few stereotypes in this book. She's
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wek is both brave and beautiful. A very interesting mix in today's superficial society. But mostly I bought and read this book because I once saw her in NYC in the market with my Mum and my Grammy. Mum and Grammy have no tact so they shamelessly followed her in a casual manner. When she noticed them, she turned around and gave them the sweetest most genuine smile. My heart was won from that day forward.
Jenny Briton
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! Not a long book but covers so much ground. Her journey as a refugee, life in London, move into the fashion industry, experiences of how her skin colour has defined her in all of those environments, wise insights into beauty, why we judge each other and so much more. Although her life has been so different to mine she writes in a way that makes me identify with her, and makes me feel like really we aren't that different.
Petra-Eggs Sunny Side Up
From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel. Amazing book about a girl who was not at all a beauty, but instead considered ugly, living in primitive villages in the Sudan transformed into a New York supermodel.
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book and a fast read.
Zozo Mogoera
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. I almost feel like I know the type of person she is. Cool, respectful, grateful, humble.

Just one question I would ask her, did she ever take salt on her visits to Sudan?
Lauren Miller
May 27, 2013 rated it liked it
In the Memoir, Alek, written by Alek Wek, she explains her story going from a Sudanese Refugee to an international supermodel. Her and her family were forced to flee to Britain to escape the Civil War in Sudan. Although she lived in a very poor area, she was very fortunate to be born into a what was considered middle-class family in her area. Although this memoir is very inspiring, it is very predicable. Even though it was an extremely inspiring story, I hate to say it but it was almost cliché. ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
good book, fast read.
Most of the book is about the experiences of a girl fleeing away of the war between rebels and State army, the laters trying to instaurate Islam in the christian and animist South Sudan and the formers trying to avoid it but at the same time stealing, raping, and killing simple civilians.

Then there is the part of Alek discovering a new world in the exile, adapting to it (it seems) easily though suffering some grade of racism sometimes. And the last short part, without many
Sarah Al
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-books-2011

Author: Alek Wek
Rating: 3.5/5

The book was very informative about life in Sudan before and after the civil war. I couldn't believe how brutal some people on earth could be!, it's just inconceivable!
The massive loads of struggles Alek Wek had been through made her the successful woman she is now, I become to strongly believe that "what won't kill you makes you stronger"

I extremely felt ashamed of myself after reading her autobiography!, I felt that I haven't accomplished NOTHING in my life.

I was t
I think I expected that there would be a chapter about Alek Wek's youth and then most of the book would be devoted to modeling. How wrong I was.

Wek seems to glow with good energy in her pictures, so I wasn't surprised to find out that I liked her very much in this autobiography. What did surprise me was how spoiled I felt as I read about her life in Sudan as a refugee. It's so easy to forget that your own life is so much more comfortable than others. The way Wek spoke about her youth and her pr
Sabrina Rutter
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alek's family were no strangers to war, but during the first years of her life there was safety and peace. Her family had a nice home, probably middle class to her countrys standards, and though they didn't always have food they were not starving. They simply had enough to sustain a healthy life, and as long as they had that they were happy. then the war began, and Alek's life changed forever. This is the story of how Alek went from being a refugee to an international super model. It's an emotio ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to read and not that special on that case but I really liked to story. Alek writes about herself and her story is a touching and warm-hearting story. She seems like a fighter and is someone people can look up to!
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow! The first 3-4 chapters are raw and real. If you find yourself complaining about your life, just read this for a dose of humility. Her story is pretty incredible when you consider where she came from and where she is today.
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really amazing because it reminded me how blessed I really am. This book is also suitable for young girls.
Stephanie Muller
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the fact that she still retains her simplicity, despite now being in a glamour world.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could really tell that this story is real. It's naked, raw, sad but also beautiful and touching. I was really touched by this book.
Steve Dow

An engaging story of how a supermodel of the West came from a most unexpected and, at times, terrifying place. Here's my 2007 interview with Alek Wek.

Alek Wek never intended to be a model. At 19, she was approached by an agent while walking in a south London park with an English girlfriend, whom Wek considered much prettier. In her memoir, Alek, the 30-year-old Dinka woman from southern Sudan tells the story of her flight from civil war, her time as a refu
Chiro Pipashito T H
What a fantastic memoir.

I do not generally read celebrity memoirs as they are nothing other than their self-aggrandizing marketing strategies. But in this memoir supermodel Alek Wek honestly described the sorry situation in her country Sudan where decades long civil war put her loving family into despair and severe economic hardship. Eventually her family escaped the war and resettled in England, which was another journey for her and also she was later discovered by modelling agent and then buil
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mugs Gitau
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I’m not a very big chooser of autobiographies when deciding what to read. But this was an excellent Choice. Poignant yet a light read.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know much about her or Her life. I think this was a great book, 4 solid stars .
She tells a lot of her background growing up in Africa.
Recommended read!!
Elin Persson
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting book with perspectives on life.
Cold Cream 'n' Roses
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fashion
I had some time to spend before a meeting in DC, and decided to take a walk. It was then that I happened upon the clearance rack that was outside the World Bank bookstore. In the clearance rank, I found the book Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel. At $3.00, the book was a steal.

The fashion angle is what drew me to Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel initially. Alek Wek is a trailblazing model. Before her, there had been many models of colo
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another one of those, "I wasn't sure what I was expecting but this wasn't exactly it kinda books". I saw Alek on Tyra Banks show ( I hate her talkshow but I watched because I was interested in seeing Alek's interview) a few weeks ago and she mentioned her biography so in order to get more insight into her life as a refugee from Sudan I picked this book up from library.

I remember seeing Alek in photo spreads in magazines and in video when I was a teenager and she stood out obviously because of h
Savannah Valvoda
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Savannah Valvoda
Block 1
Memoir Book Review

I read the book, Alek, and the author of the book is also Alek. My memoir talks about 28 years of Alek’s life. From when she was born, to 2004. Alek was influenced by her mom and a friend she meets in London. She was a slave because she worked hard all of her life.
One event that I thought was exciting was when Alek’s mom talked to the Militias. Another event that was exciting was when she got offered to become a model. The third event that was exciting w
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jorden-runt
I know pretty much nothing about the modelling industry because it is not really an interest of mine. So why did I pick this book up at a flea market?

The short answer is that I love to hear about the stories of refugees (no one, NO ONE should have to leave their home by force!!) and I am very pro not only having white faces in fashion (or in books, movies, or ANYTHING. The world exists of a lof of colors, get over it). So I figured I would give the book a try.

I was very surprised! For such a s
Sandra Henderson
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am not quite half way and so moved by this book. She was born to make a difference it would seem. Fabulous parents who stood out from the crowd and instilled the most basic and important values, provided the family with so much love, the situation hardly made a difference. Such poignant anecdotes she shares. I hope she goes on being an example of the values we need in the forefront of our western culture, drunk on materialism. Write more books Alek!!

Finished and really moved, so much strength, c
Eliana Nzualo
I loved the book.
I think most time the regular citizen, and specially children don't really know what's going on when it comes to political tension and war. She was able to portray her child mind very well, and you can see that as she grows and as she is confronted with death, despair and displacement she begins to question things and look for answers.
What a beautiful story! Every human being has a story waiting to happen, but unfortunately not every human being has the opportunity to make it ha
Jul 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Quick read about Alek Wek's journey from Sundanese refugee to modeling for Vogue magazine. Her childhood sounds so hard to imagine, but she writes about the strength of her family and the community in the Sudan outback and what it was like to grow up in a war torn country. Also there are some interesting comments about race and racism that Wek has experience in England, while flying, and in the modeling industry. Even though her childhood was difficult and she has experienced racism, she doesn't ...more
Antoinette Perez
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always cheered for Alek Wek in editorials and on runways before reading this book, and now I am a fan. It was wonderful to see so clearly the forces at work in shaping who she is today. Some people struggle with where they came from and the success they currently enjoy, and the disparity between war-torn Sudan and jet-setting supermodel could put her at the top of this identity crisis list, and maybe she does still work hard to reconcile that. But she is leveraging her profile and using her vo ...more
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Alek Wek is a South Sudanese British model who first appeared on the catwalks at the age of 18 in 1995, sparking a career lasting to date. She is from the Dinka ethnic group in South Sudan, but in 1991 she and some family members fled to Britain to escape the civil war in Sudan. She later moved to the United States.

Wek is a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees' Advisory Council and is helping

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