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The astonishing true story of a heroic young woman's capture and eventual escape from ISIS

In August 2014, Farida Khalaf was just a normal Yazidi girl, living in a village high in the mountains of northern Iraq. Then her village was attacked and swiftly taken by ISIS fighters, and her whole world changed. The jihadists murdered the men and the boys of her village, including her father and brothers, before taking Farida prisoner along with the rest of the women.

This is the story of what happened to Farida after she was captured: the beatings, the rapes, the markets where ISIS sold their female prisoners like cattle, and Farida's realisation that the more difficult and resistant she became, the harder it was for her captors to continue their atrocities against her. So she struggled, she bit, she kicked, she accused her captors of going against their religion, and then, one day, the door to her room was left unlocked. She took her chance along with 5 other women, and set out across the Syrian desert ...

This is a story of incredible courage in the face of unthinkable atrocity. As the battle against ISIS continues to ravage the Middle East, The Girl Who Beat Isis provides an astonishing perspective on this very terrifying global threat.


Shattering, brave, angering account

The Bookseller

‘How much can a single person endure? Traumatised, uprooted, abused – Farida continues to deal with the consequences of ISIS. Nevertheless, this memoir is full of hope. She is a very strong individual, she has the heart of a lioness. An amazing story that encourages us never to keep quiet or to give in’

Frank Heinrich, German Parliamentary Speaker on Human Rights

‘Farida tells her story courageously and bravely as she describes how she resisted attempts to convert, marry and rape her, for so long in some cases that the ISIS henchmen actually left her alone’

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Farida shows the good and bad sides of religion… She criticises aspects of her own upbringing like certain religious taboos – such nuance is impressive’


‘Her story highlights atrocities, but it is also a moving account of how friendship, love and the will to survive are mightier than any barbarism’


A stunning, heart wrenching narrative... Everyone should read this in order to get to the heart of the tragedy of the Arab world and the distortion of Islam being perpetrated by ISIS. Beautifully written in the voice of a teenage girl, this book gives more of an understanding of what is happening than political treatises.

Ahmed Rashid

This powerful testimoney is ... as gripping as it is appalling


A compelling testament to the suffering of ordinary people caught up in violence far beyond their control – and to the particularly terrible price it exacts from women.

Rachel Aspden, Guardian

Starkly horrifying memoir.

Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post

Farida Khalaf won her small but significant battle. Its happy ending notwithstanding, it's difficult to focus on positivity – but then, perhaps that's why this remains a vital read.

Hot Press

A gut-wrenching and relentless experience...Farida's story needs to be told.

Catherine Philip, The Times

A powerful description of a world ripped apart... Farida tells a story that is testament to how toxic violence can be born of religion.

New Statesman

This is a mesmerising study of human cruelty and a brave depiction of the monsters that arise when reason sleeps.

Oliver Thring, Sunday Times

It’s a shattering, brave, enraging book but also a stirring story of survival.

Sunday Express

An unflinching account… This is one of those rare volumes that offers astonishing insights into the human spirit… A catalogue of horror is made bearable only by her extraordinary courage.

Joan Smith, Observer

Although a harrowing story it is also an uplifting one as it is truly a triumph of the human spirit over terror.

Frank McGabhann, Irish Times

This is a brave, harrowing but necessary book.

Colette Sheridan, Irish Examiner

So shocking you will read it in one sitting.


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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 18, 2016

    Square Peg

    224 pages

    RRP $38.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Hardback


    May 15, 2016

    Square Peg

    224 pages

    RRP $50.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    May 5, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    224 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory


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