Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Özge Samanci
At age 6, Özge Samanci was desperate to be “on the other side of the binoculars” – that is, to be at school, being watched by her mother from across the street, just as she and her mother occasionally spotted and waved at her older sister Pelin, age 8, during recess. So enticing was Pelin’s world of learning, Samanci would throw “little monster”-like tantrums on the floor, forget to complete her errands, and even sneak into her sister’s classroom on her own. And then, finally, “When I started primary school everybody was relieved.”
Throughout the rest of her youth into young adulthood in Turkey, Samanci would be told that the right education would be the key to a secure feature: “to study engineering or medicine at a prestigious university [would lead to] a good job, mak[ing] lots of money, and be[ing] powerful,” her schoolteacher father reminded her at regular intervals. No matter how hard Samanci worked to comply, sister Pelin set a near-impossible pace for achievement.
Samanci was not her sister. She spoke to a poster of Jacques Cousteau about a life in the sea. She struggled with her mathematics degree. She considered taking to the stage. She doodled and drew. Meanwhile, beyond her immediate world of family, friends, and school, her country experienced its own coming-of-age, from fundamentalism and militarism to signs of moving toward more secularism, then back again to political mayhem.
“In the midst of the noise that I grew up with I could not hear my own voice,” Samanci realizes. To “dare to disappoint” turns out to be her first step toward her own future. The journey she chronicles here – a personal history told through spectacular graphics impossible not to giggle, sniffle, guffaw over (find that snarky bird!) – is poignant and funny, bittersweet and illuminating, entertaining and inspiring. In daring to disappoint, Samanci disappoints none here.
Readers: Young Adult