Two Sisters

2 of 4
Two Sisters
432 pages; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
How does someone become a terrorist? Norwegian journalist ├ůsne Seierstad attempts to answer this question as she reconstructs the radicalization of two girls, ages 19 and 16, who go to bed one night in their Somali community in Norway only leave for Syria the next day to become members of ISIS. Using emails, text messages, observations, interviews and other shards of evidence, Seierstad traces the complicated paths of the girls' journey and the history of the youthful decision-making (including their less-than-cogent teenage choices). The reconstructed events provide insight into the thorny issues surrounding the mind-set of the Islamic State group, as well as prove that the political is almost always personal. As a result, the book reads more like a literary novel than a journalistic exercise. Don't expect any definitive answers, however. As Seierstad admits, only the girls "know their thoughts and motivations."
— Kerri Arsenault