BOOK REVIEW – Climbing Over Grit

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WARNING:  Graphic Images

Climbing Over Grit by Marzeeh Laleh Chini and her daughter Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi is a ringing indictment of child marriage, in the years leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

A moving story of courage, strength, and love in the face of abuse, Climbing Over Grit is a first-hand account of the early life of Laleh’s mother, Najma.

Neglected by her wealthy but self-absorbed parents, Najma is married at the age of 11 to a man thirteen years her senior who regularly beats and rapes her.  Despite horrific abuse, Najma’s spirit is never broken.  She forms a close relationship with her mother-in-law and manages to raise four children (becoming a grandmother at the early age of 30).

In the process – and despite her husband’s vehement opposition – Najma resumes her education, attaining a small degree of independence.  However, history repeats itself when Najma and her husband arrange a marriage for their daughter, Jaleh, at the age of 15. 

Fully one third the girls in the developing world are still married before the age of 18 (one in nine, before the age of 15) [1].  This amounts to 15 million child marriages each year.  Child brides often show signs of sexual abuse, depression, and PTSD [2].  Educating girls has been a key factor in raising the age of marriage in Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Climbing Over Grit explores abuse on many levels – emotional abuse and neglect, as the consequence of narcissism; financial, physical, and sexual abuse as fostered by culture and religion.  The subject matter can be challenging, particularly for abuse victims.  However, the main character, Najma, is a remarkable woman, well worth knowing.  A sequel to the book is planned.

[1]  International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Child Marriage Around the World,

[2]  International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Violence and Child Marriage,

Author Marzeeh Laleh Chini blogs at A Voice From Iran  .  She pens warm and wise folk tales both children and adults can enjoy.



Filed under Child Abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

10 responses to “BOOK REVIEW – Climbing Over Grit

  1. I enjoy her place. She writes cool stories and she is very kind

  2. Thank you for sharing Anna.
    This is so true.. Perversion under the guise of custom..
    Historians believe Mary was around 14 when she was betrothed.. but maturity came at a younger age in centuries past. Although most marriages were arranged and lacked the element of love.. some had a say in their fate.

  3. An honest review and inspiring story. You are always the voice of downtrodden.Plz. keep it up 👍👍

  4. Indeed a rare insight to a hidden world of institutionalised cruelty and misery. Laleh has done us a favour by speaking out so powerfully and frankly.

    • I fully agree. We are often assured that child marriage is “harmless” — a tradition binding two families together (w/ sexual intercourse deferred until the participants reach maturity). Clearly, however, that is not the case.

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