Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

by Deborah Rodriguez

This book is a very entertaining read with a mix of hilarious moments and sobering sad stories. Part of it is a chronicle of funny episodes of an expatriate’s life, part of it a collection of life stories of Afghan women.  It reminds me of The White Masai but with more interaction with local lives, as well as Reading Lolita in Tehran but with a lighter mood.  I cheered for the author when she received an unexpectedly enthusiastic welcome from all the foreign aid workers starving for a highlight and hairdo. I cheered for Nahida who survived like a phoenix and ached for those who succumbed to their circumstances.  I enjoyed the story how a woman, with seemingly no special skill and no college degree, can be a valuable resource in helping the Afghan women in need.  It inspires people to feel that if there is a will, there is a way, and anyone of us can be a positive force to help others.   

For those interested, here’s an article with some pictures, including one of the author with her Afghan husband.  It’s a funny picture and somehow Sam’s scrowl looks more like a pout than a threat next to Debbie’s laughs – although I am sure if he were to stand in front of me he would still be rather formidable.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=454386&in_page_id=1770

Even before I started on the book, I have read about the storm surrounding the book and its author.  I am saddened that nowadays it seems like every memoir’s publication ends up with accusation and dispute.  In all honesty, having sat through family reunions where details of events were hotly debated, I am convinced everyone has a different version of reality.  I also expect that every person has some unglorious moments that he or she prefers not to be reminded of.  Maybe to make the book more interesting and to avoid introducing too many characters, or to protect identities, it is possible that several women’s experiences are concentrated into one archetypal Afghan female.  I do feel that the author is on a positive motive and really wishes to help the girls, and things are just blown to such proportion that is beyond her. 

However, it is a bit sad to learn outside the book that Debbie and Sam’s marriage fell apart; even though it sretches my imagination how it happens in the first place.  In a news article where the husband “Sam” claims that he works with Debbie on the book and it was agreed upon that he is entitled to half the profit.  I would much rather he just says that Debbie being his wife, is his property, and therefore whatever she makes is his property too, instead of making such dubious claim.  While I am not sure how in love they were, it is sad that it ends at a point where Debbie no longer wishes to see him and insists that the marriage is void anyway as he has a wife already.

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Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 3:33 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I have heard so many positive comments about this book. I really need to find a copy!


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