Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately

This is a very well-written and entertaining contemporary tale about a Boston ER nurse, Elsa.  Elsa had a hard knock life and as a result, wants to help others in dire situations.  She joins an aid organization and travels to Bamiyan, Afghanistan, home of the famous Buddha statues to work in a clinic.  She has no electricity and no running water, but she is determined to spend one year there.  She learns that running water and electricity do not a happy environment make.  Instead, she discovers love with an American solider, friendships with Afghani women, and learns how hope and determination of a people can raise a country from the ashes of war. 

A Bamiyan Budda before the Taliban
It's  not a vacation, however,  Elsa faces many nursing challenges, challenges not to her skills and abilities, but to her emotions.  A drastic bus bombing leads to her meeting Parween.  Parween has had a few hard knocks herself and a quarter of the novel visits Parween and her life up till meeting Elsa, her childhood, her friends, how the Taliban changed everything, and the loss of her husband.  Through Parween, readers can see what Afghanistan is like for Afghan women. 

The Bamiyan Buddhas being destoyed by Taliban.

The book goes back and forth, following both Elsa and Parween.  Both women help others from women with extra digits to beaten little girls and risk their own lives to do so.  One day they may go too far.  The ending is not a happy one, not completely anyway. 

I was very entertained and I appreciate how the author portrayed American soldiers in a kind light.  I was bothered by two things, however, enough to give the book a four star instead of five star rating.  First, both Elsa and Parween are just too good and kind to be true (until the end when they are a bit stupid.  I was screaming at them, No No No!)  Second, the love at first sight thing with Elsa and Mike... I get it's a war zone, but come on, one day?? 

Good debut though.  I bought this on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an entertaining read, even if not a five-star one. So sad that those wonderful Buddha statues were destroyed by hate and radicalism (is that a word?).