Nowhere Girl: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood

Algonquin. Jun. 2021. 320p. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781616208202.
Born to a family on the run, Harbhajan, aka Bhajan, has never known what it’s like to call somewhere home. Throughout her transient childhood, her family cycles through countries, identities, and religions at the drop of a hat, always on the run from a mysterious, unknown enemy. Because they are always on the move, a formal education, stability, and sense of normalcy are never a priority for Bhajan, the youngest in her family. The book charts her life through significant ages and locations, beginning at age four and ending at 28, with stints as a top-level gymnast and best-selling author among the highlights. Much more frequent, however, are the lowlights that punctuate her isolated family life: physical abuse at the hands of her volatile father, verbal abuse perpetuated by a hateful sister, and sexual abuse carried out by the person she had trusted most, her brother. This compelling memoir illustrates life on the run with short, fast-paced chapters that often end abruptly as Bhajan and her family are found out and take off again. As Bhajan grows older and life becomes slightly more stable, the narrative slows down, focusing more deeply on Bhajan’s reckoning with her upbringing: trauma, forgiveness, family, and finding home.
VERDICT Readers intrigued by memoirs of resiliency in spite of insular upbringings like Educated by Tara Westover or The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls will be riveted by Diamond’s work.

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