Powered By Blogger

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Nowhere Girl by Cheryl Diamond

Nowhere Girl by Cheryl Diamond
Published by Algonquin Books ISBN 9781616208202
Hardcover, $27.95, 309 pages
In the memoir, Nowhere Girl, author Cheryl Diamond states "by the age of nine, I will have lived in more than a dozen countries, on five continents, under six assumed identies. I know how a document is forged, how to withstand an interrogation, and the most important, how to disappear." How can you resist that?

When the book opens, four year-old Cheryl (whose given name is Bhajan), her older brother Frank (age 14) and older sister Chiara (age 16) are traveling in an out-of-control car careening through the Himalayas with their parents, George and Anne. The family are Sikh, vegetarian, and constant travelers, on the run from Interpol and their mother's father, a member of the Luxenbourg secret police. 

Cheryl is not exactly sure what her father has done, it has something to do with money, but the family has to obey his three rules- always be loyal to their family, trust no one, and be a noble criminal. It is an "unbreakable outlaw code".

Moving from country to country, the children could not make friends. When they are in British Columbia, Chiara plans on attending college and is devastated when George gets into some trouble with an investor and tells them to pack up, they are on the move.

For people who are always on the run, I found it puzzling that George encouraged Frank to join swim teams wherever they moved, becoming good enough that he would train for the Olympics. Cheryl showed skill in gymastics, and she trained with an eye towards the Olympics as well. Weren't they worried they would be discovered?

George had an explosive temper and could be violent with his family. He verbally and physically abused them, beating young Cheryl with a electrical cord. He didn't speak to Frank for over a year- not a word spoken to him. That abuse left emotional scars on all of them.

As the children get older, they rebel against this lifestyle. Eventually, Cheryl wants a passport in her real name, but the problem is that she doesn't have a legal birth certificate. The birth certificate she has is fraudulent, and getting a passport with that would mean that she would be committing fraud. 

Nowhere Girl is a crazy true story, and if it were a novel, the editor would probably tell the author to tone it down, it's too outrageous. The family lived like kings in fancy hotels at times, and then were living in their car, homeless, at others. They had adventures and traveled the world, but had to constantly look over their shoulder. If you liked the books Educated and The Glass Castle, put Nowhere Girl on your list. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for putting me on Cheryl Diamond's tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment