This is the horrifying story of Samira Bellil,  a girl grown into a young woman, who was raised in the suburbs of Paris in a family of Algerian descent.  She herself was born in Algeria. Samira tells her story of gang rape of drugs abuse of physical and mental abuse to show other girls and young women that there is a way out of this kind of destructive life.

The ‘tournantes’ in the French title of this book refers to the act of a gang leader to share his girlfriend with boys in his gang. A gang rape. Samira experienced it. It send her on a spiralling way downwards, what follows is a continuous battle with her age mates in the banlieue and her own family with a violent father and a submissive mother. There is a cry for love. Love that is unconditional. Love that is giving. Love that does not hurt but builds up.

During her very early years she is raised by a Flemish family where she experiences love and a stable environment. When she returns to her parents life desintegrates in a rude and unpredictable way.  For some time she spends her summer holidays with her substitute parents.   

We follow Samira in her attempts to find a way to the light, a life with self esteem, a life with a loving relationship. She follows courses, she spends time in a juvenile center with some protection. She takes part in a courtcase that sentences her rapists to years in prison. Then finding the right people to help her, and a willingness to be helped on the way out of this hell. 

Writing this book was a way of dealing with her past and her present. A way of healing amidst the broken pieces of her life. A way of healing the scars in her body and her mind. 

A few years after the publication of her book Samira Bellil passed away.
She left an impressive legacy. 

This book has been translated into English, carrying the title : To Hell and Back: The Life of Samira Bellil.

Samira Bellil – Dans l’enfer des tournantes – 2002

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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