A few years ago, I read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. A friend of mine was told by an Afghan woman once that it was hard to believe these books were fiction because they could have been non-fiction. These two books draw a very vivid picture of what life was like for women in Afghanistan in the twentieth century. I remember being shocked by how little I knew about that part of the world when I began reading The Kite Runner. That shock shook me out of my little American egocentric view of the world with the help of another book, Love in the Driest Season, by Neely Tucker. All three books I highly recommend if you haven't read them.
A new book is going to be released in March which is not fictional. It is the true story of an Afghan woman and her life during the Taliban regime of the 1990s. This story is not about history from long ago. This story is recent history, which makes it all the more heartwrenching to read.
The book I'm referring to is titled The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gale Tzemach Lemmon. I read this book in a day. I have three little kids and I still read it in a day. Once I began the first chapter, my heart grieved so much for the suffering of the women of Afghanistan. I know that many people question what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and why our troops fight the Taliban. After reading this book, there is no question in my mind. As Americans, we are simply so egocentric in our view of the world. We don't always realize that sometimes we need to fight for people when they aren't able to fight for themselves.
This story is as powerful, if not moreso, than the The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Partly, I think, because it is a biography, not a realistic fiction story. Several reviewers on Amazon shared spoke of a desire for more visual description of Afghanistan in this book. If you begin this book and desire more description, set it down. Go read Hosseini's two books and then come back to this one. Having those pictures in your head will fill in any gaps that you have, I think.
The ending brought tears to my eyes. I am thankful and feel blessed that I got a chance to read this. I think what made this book really hit my heart so hard was that this young woman is five years younger than me. The story begins when I was graduating high school. I was heading off to college. I earned my four year degree with no idea that such suffering was going on in the world. How ignorant I was! I am thankful to be aware now and I hope that it will teach me to be more aware and thankful for my life and where I live. I hope it will do the same for others as well as help us to have compassion and a sense of understanding why our soldiers are fighting abroad.
Please note that I received a complimentary preview copy of this book from Harper Collins.