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Shining: The Story of a Lucky Man

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A remarkably warm-hearted, uplifting and inspiring story of one boy's survival against the odds.

Abdi's world fell apart when he was only fifteen and Somalia's vicious civil war hit Mogadishu. Unable to find his family and effectively an orphan, he fled with some sixty others,heading to Kenya. On the way, death squads hunted them and they daily faced violence, danger and st
Paperback, 302 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by HarperCollins (first published May 25th 2015)
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Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
‘Shining: The Story of a Lucky Man’ is the biography of Abdi Aden, written with Robert Hillman.

Abdi Aden’s story begins like any other – he’s a happy kid from a loving family, living in soccer-mad Somalia. Then in 1991 civil war breaks out in Mogadishu, and Abdi’s world falls apart.

What follows next is Abdi’s harrowing story of survival when, at just 15-years-old, he’s forced to flee the violence and death squads and make his way to Kenya.

I am lonely, I am exhausted. But for the fact that I d
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'People who have seen me on Go Back to Where You Came From ask me: Abdi, when people tell you to go back home, what do you say? And this is my answer. I say: no thanks. Madmen with AKs will kill me. And then I say: don't you want me here? Really? With these good looks?'
Amazing story, amazing person. Full of heart and survival.
Tanya Searle
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I would like to thank Goodreads and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book. Shining brings back the message to me how lucky I am that I can live freely. Abdi is a very brave man and I cannot imagine what he endured as a child. He stayed optimistic all through his life no matter what danger or injustice was thrown his way. He is a role model to all of those that have or are facing tradegy.
Velo Bones
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book will stay with me. Aden's straightforward account of how his childhood world transformed into one of pointless mindless violence that morphed him into an asylum seeker is told with pragmatism and humor. In his descriptions of the worst times, he cleverly foreshadows who he becomes later as a Melbournian. We need these stories to break down the fear that has us regarding asylum seekers so cruelly. ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
What an amazing story about a truly remarkable human being. This is a wonderful story. The truth in this story is both horrific but also wonderful. That someone could live through so much yet still have a pure heart, full of joy and life is potentially life changing.
Bec Ferris
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story of strength but more importantly optimism!
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
One day, everything is normal. You live with a nice family, go to school, play sport with your friends. Then your whole life changes and you are alone, aged 15 and you no longer recognise your own country, your own life. From fed to starving, from safe to dangerous, from familiar to alien, from a home to homeless, Suddenly you are a refugee, forced onto the road to escape crazy men with guns, the brutality of war. Suddenly Abdi is living off his wits and nothing much more than air and a bit of h ...more
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I loved that it was written by equally and Australian, and a Somali, you can hear both voices very clearly - beautiful. The book is written so perfectly, capturing with wise observation, humour and candor a very difficult journey. I worked for many years with refugees and asylum seekers in a variety of roles both here and overseas and this book just hits the mark in so many ways in explaining what to one in a country of safety, finds so hard to understand. Thank you Abdi and g ...more
Tracey Washington-lacy
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Abdi tells his story with humour and optimism. An honest account of a boy left alone to find himself become a man on his journey that was fraught with fear and danger. Told in an unsophisticated way this tale should open minds to the understanding that a refugee doesn't choose to take risks. Abdi certainly shows no resentment towards the life he did not choose. He considers himself a lucky man and that is a healthy mind considering what he endured. ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
Such an inspiring and beautifully written memoir. Abdi’s story could and should change hearts, minds and political policy towards refugees and asylum seekers. This book gives me hope and optimism for the future of our country. You are an inspiration Abdi.
Jenny Johnson
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
On my kindle. Refugee story from Somalia to Melbourne. Some terrible pictures of violence that stay in the brain. Well written. Story of wanting to stay alive.
Erin Gray
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Abdi is a special person. His strength and optimism is astonishing considering the atrocities he witnessed of his country being torn apart by war.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from Goodreads as a giveaway.
An inspirational story of a young boy's struggle to live under horrific circumstances in Somalia. Heartbreaking accounts of him and many many other ordinary people running from madness and death. He was abandoned by his parents, not knowing where his sister was, and at 15 is left to fend for himself. It's truly upsetting to hear of the hardships he encounters in his travels to find a new life, to find a place of safety and to just stay alive. He
Margret Klippet
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The shining: story of a lucky man seemed like one of those ordinary books that wouldn't interest me but i was quite surprised when i got to the end of it. I have to say, the first 5 chapters lost me a bit when Aden talks about what his life was like before the war but during the last 15 or so chapters, you learn more and more about Aden and how he is an inspiring and very real person. His story is compelling to read and almost nothing like anything else i've read. It makes you think about your l ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
When a brutal civil war broke out in his native Somalia, Abdi Aden had no choice but to try to escape the slaughter. With a combination of luck, courage and persistence he managed to do so and this book is the powerful and moving account of that escape and his efforts to find safety and a new life – which he eventually achieves in Australia. He now lives there with a wife and children and has forged a successful and meaningful life for himself. What struck me most about the book was how his indo ...more
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Thanks to HarperCollins I was lucky enough to win 'Shining' as a Goodreads Giveaway.

This is a story of resilience and hope, of living on one's wits, in at times terrifying circumstances ... where what is not said is as powerful as what is said.

Thank you Abdi Aden for sharing your story, you are 'the Shining One' and I can only agree with your wish that "If God granted me one wish, it would be this: that human beings lost the ability to be cruel to one another; that one morning, everyone in the
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This is a remarkable story of survival tackling serious real-life issues with a spirit of optimism. It was such an easy and entertaining read that it reminded me of those stories your father used to tell you when you were young. I really liked the map included detailing Abdi's journey and the photographs placed between chapters, which kept me engaged with the story. Thank you Abdi for giving me insight into the life experiences of a refugee.

Thank you Good Reads, Harper Collins and the author Abd
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shining is an enthralling book - at so many levels. The events that one person can experience are almost beyond belief. Yet despite it all Abdi Aden maintains his optimistic spirit. The book is beautifully written in Abdi's voice which is very appealing. I was totally engrossed in the book and moved by it. Very highly recommended - as a triumphant human story and for appreciating the challenges of refugees who have managed to reach Australia (and other countries). Abdi is obviously a very specia ...more
Marie-elise Allen
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Abdi Aden, I honour your story, you, your journey, your strength, your belief in self, and that you are now a citizen of Australia. I was moved by your story and I felt for your and your family, your country of birth and your personal struggle to find peace in chaotic world. My heart was open and I was deeply touched. I feel so, so saddened and yes ashamed of the way Australia treats people seeking refuge here. It distresses me over and over again. In the end you are indeed a lucky man. So many ...more
There is a huge market for books like this, but not for me. Shining, apart from having a name guaranteed to confuse it with Stephen King, is a relatively superficial triumph over adversity memoir that reads as if it were being told to a child.

That said, Abdi Aden does sound like a good person, doing good work, and this book could potentially help to enlighten readers other than this one.
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
I received a copy as part of a Goodreads book giveaway. This is an important read as it gives an individual's first person account of going from a happy go lucky boy in Somalia to someone living by their wits in a civil war. Abdi is a charming fellow despite all he went through in his journey to his final home in Melbourne, Australia. If you wonder why asylum seekers come to Australia this story is a must read. ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved reading Abdi's story of survival, it certainly makes you realise how lucky we are to live in a peaceful country. The book was inspiring and deeply moving. I'd definitely recommend it to others to read. ...more
Sue Trippas
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is an eye opener into the hardship of refugees whilst written in an easy to read way. It has given me a new respect for anyone in this situation.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
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Dec 31, 2015
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Jackie Lloyd
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May 17, 2016
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Abdi Aden was a teenager when he arrived in Melbourne as a refugee to begin a new life. Until recently he was a Youth Worker for Hume City Council in Melbourne and he recently completed postgraduate studies in adolescent mental health. He is married to the daughter of British immigrants and has three young sons.

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