I started this blog with a review of Rodriguez’s first book, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, so I have decided to restart it with a review of her second. Following a long build up and eventual season of A-Level exams which essentially determine where I’m headed in life, I can finally get back to reading my own books, watching Netflix and reviewing my finds (yes, I would also like to start reviewing TV shows and films and such like).
Anyway, back to Debbie’s turbulent times in Afghanistan:
Unlike her first book, which was an incredible novel full of twists, turns and tears, this wonderful book is a rather frank and elaborate description of her own Afghan experiences. I don’t know for certain how she managed to record all that happened there but it’s very thorough! It does make me slightly doubt whether or not it’s all entirely true but it still makes for a fantastic read.
The story is told by Debbie so obviously it revolves around her own experiences as she struggles to open up a Beauty School for Afghan women so that they can make a living for themselves. One of the most amazing things about both of Rodriguez’s books (that I have read) is that you can learn so much from them! I mean, I put that with an exclamation mark as though it was an exciting learning process but it’s actually incredibly sad to hear about these girls’ stories. And I’m not saying “girls” in a derogatory way either because a lot of the stories we hear about are those of how young women (the youngest being only fifteen!) are abused and oppressed as bargaining tools, baby makers and punching bags. It’s horribly unjust but there is some hope and some small signs of progress shown in this book.
Another lovely aspect to this book is the addition of coloured photographs of her time there. These show the wonderful array of colours and people of Afghanistan and evidence of the glorious work that Debbie helped make possible, despite the many obstacles she had to face. These obstacles range from the basic troubles such as money and logistics to the more delicate issues such as ethical conflicts and cultural confusions.
When I was younger (not by much, probably like three years ago) I didn’t really understand why Afghanistan was in such a mess. It was on the news nearly every day that some terrorist attempt had been made or somebody had been killed, kidnapped or tortured etc. etc. etc. every day. Relentless. Heartless. There was all this news and actually no explanation as to why it was all happening. This was really confusing and pretty frustrating. I tried to care about these people losing everything but I couldn’t understand what they were upset or angry about to cause them all to fight so hard and jeopardise or victimise the lives of the innocent. However, now, although it’s still very confusing, I understand it all a lot better with the help of this book, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini because they all take a personal and informative approach to their stories and provide a little more clarity. In fact, these books are one of the reasons I have chosen to become a Digital Advocate for the World Humanitarian Summit, further information on which will be shared soon.
For those of you who have read my other reviews on the other Afghanistan-based books, I’m afraid you may be sick of hearing about it because I am yet to read Khaled Hosseini’s other two novels, And The Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner, in the near future. However, for now I would like to highly recommend to you the works of Deborah Rodriguez! They are thrilling, sad and deeply touching. One thing I might say is that I definitely prefer The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul but that may just be because I like coffee a great deal more than I like haircuts and manicures. Having said that, I absolutely admire the work gone into The Kabul Beauty School and am impressed by Debbie’s resilience and ambition.
Permit me a word or two about Twitter as I feel I’m entitled to some small bragging rights on this one. Despite the fact I have a grand total of four Twitter followers on the account linked to this blog, Deborah Rodriguez just so happens to be one of those many, many followers. So, if you would like to follow her example by following me on twitter, I would be very grateful! Now I’m up and running again I could do with just a hint of publicity.
Follow me at @CarenzaReads
Sorry for the long wait!