It’s not every day that one comes across a Caribbean writer who has had over 250,000 copies of their first book sold in the United Kingdom and over 150,000 in the United States. So meeting Shaliza Ali, a T&T born author of the widely acclaimed Built by Brokenness, was a pleasure. At age 36, the mother of one bares her soul for the world recalling her struggle to escape the fanaticism of an Islamic man who, she said, misused the practices of his religion to abuse and keep her captive. The book also details Ali’s own spiritual transition from Islam to Christianity—but she swears she never meant for her book to discredit the religion and her teachings.
“Two years ago, the day after I walked out on everything that I owned, I had no idea what was going to happen to me. “The future seemed so doubtful, there was a throng of bills to be paid, I was practically on the threshold of being homeless; I most certainly did not know how I was going to provide for (my daughter). “In addition to all this, I felt as if I was losing my mind. I remember sitting in the back seat of my daddy’s car, with tears streaming from my eyes, I reflected on the ostensibly blank day that lied ahead of me.
“What did I have? What did the future hold for me? Was God even hearing me? Then I stared out of the window and into the open sky and I heard a still small voice inside of me saying: You may not always know what tomorrow holds, but it’s a great comfort to know that GOD holds all of your tomorrows .
“It was the voice of the Holy Spirit consoling me and urging me to go on.” Ali has yet to regret her move.
“The day I stopped living my life through fear, lack of confidence and illogical beliefs, was the day I discovered my spirituality and the true love of Jesus Christ.”
In the foreword Ali’s daughter, who at times witnessed her mother’s abuse, described Built by Brokenness as a lifetime of testimonies finally ready to be made public. Still, she wrote, her mother didn’t tell all of what really happened. “So many things were not said.” Both Ali and her daughter are hoping that Built by Brokenness reach men and women in abusive relationships and help them to get out and live a fulfilled life.
Ali smiled at the mention of all the buzz regarding her book in the USA and the UK and she gives God all the glory for the attention. “At no time in my wildest imagination, I would have ever anticipated that (people) would be able to find consolation and comfort within the pages of the book.” She said her “overnight success” was also due to hard work and intense study. “It took a lot of sacrifice from a God sent mother who insisted that I not play dolls with the girls in my neighbourhood. She insisted that I stay at home and read so many legendary novels.”
Author House, she said was instrumental in ensuring that Built by Brokenness was in over 130,000 stores across the UK and the USA. In March, Ali is expected to go on a tour that kicks off with a BBC Documentary with appearances on Larry King Live on CNN, Oprah’s Book Club on the O network and an interview on TBN’s Paula White Show. However, before she begins her tour, Ali will appear at the regional launch of Built by Brokenness on February 19, in Trinidad.
Acclaimed Pastor Dr Myles Munroe, who was the first person to read Ali’s manuscript and recommend a publisher to her, is expected to officially launch the book. Anointing, a music album that features Shaliza Ali the singer, and which coincides with her book, would also be launched at the event. On the CD, Ali told WomanWise, her songs give praises for her success so far and for the trials she overcame. The Felicity, Central Trinidad born author is also in talks with Lifetime Women’s Network execs to have a movie done based on her book. She expects to wrap up negotiations with the network by next month.
Ali has also had to fit into her already busy schedule, requests from various organisations for speaking engagements about her experience.
Deep within her there is a need to give back and she wants to do so through a foundation that gives support to victims of domestic abuse and children who have lost both parents due to domestic disputes.
She’s hoping that once her book reaches the Caribbean, the sales pattern would follow the trend set in the USA and the UK. “The demand is great.” Alia also hopes that the government of T&T would acknowledge her success and realise how influential it can be to other women and even men out there who are being abused.