Daughters of Kobani

The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage and Justice by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (Penguin Press, 2021, 288 pages)

Thousands of miles away in the United States, a young teenage girl dresses for school and worries about her impending social studies exam, submitting her final college application essay, and driving to school on time, for once. But in the heartland of Kobani, a young girl becomes a woman, with the righteous and unusual passage of commanding troops against the ISIS effort. She worries if she will be a good leader, and if her comrades will survive. It is in this moment, reading this text, that readers come to the sobering realization that their lives could not be any more different. This is The Daughters of Kobani, Gayle Lemmon’s catalog of the experiences of female ISIS fighters.

Lemmon enters the scene of ISIS conflict with vibrant and exhilarating questions: “How had ISIS inadvertently forced the world to pay attention to an obscure militia launching a long shot of a Kurdish and women’s rights revolution in the Middle East? Does it take violence to stop violence against women? …Would real equality be possible only when women take arms?” Lemmon attempts to answer these questions and more, and inviting readers to take a look into the lives of women who are willing to risk it all.

Indomitable women are introduced to readers from the very first page–from their first attacks, injuries, and successful military campaigns. There seems to be no feat that these women cannot conquer, and an invisible bond spreads amongst them. Without badges, honors, or recognition, the Daughters of Kobani as the women are known by SIS supporters are continually threatened and targeted by these men. However, almost without hesitation and without grasping the rippling effects of their courage, the women take up arms and fight.

They fight for a cause that they all believe in–women’s liberation and equality–in a society that only recognizes them as traditional mothers, wives, sisters, and servants. In these far away countries, women are fighting to shatter glass ceilings in companies, households, and arenas. But they also stive for something greater–to imbue their sacrifice into the history of an unforgettable war, so that no man or woman, would ever forget their cause and their rightful place in the front lines of a war-torn society. Acknowledging the sacrifices and risks Lemmon took to release such a necessary and vital piece of journalism, Daughters of Kobani depicts a rare behind the scenes take of a war absent of literature that showcases a different narrative, the one readers need to recognize and champion–the one of women staking their claim, taking charge of a revolution, and forfeiting the lie for the truth. As Lemmon says, “…we lead. We win. We rise.”


Review contributed by Jacqueline Parker. Parker is an avid book lover and has developed her passion into a professional hobby of writing and reviewing books. In 2021, she is embarking on a 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, curating her book list from 2020 favorites and 2021 must-reads. In her free time, Jackie enjoys cycling, hiking, podcasting on DODReads, and spending time writing her first novel.

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