The last time I reviewed a Goodreads giveaway win on this blog was Josephine Baker's Last Dance here . A Door Into Earth by Amy Waldman is a 2019 GR giveaway win that I just finished reading. I am still going through the stack of physical GR giveaway books in the order I received them when I have the time to read them.
If you had told me that I was going to read a novel taking place in current day Afghanistan, I wouldn't have believed you. I looked up the status of the war. It's still going on despite the United States signing a peace treaty with the Taliban about a year ago. See recent developments .
A Door In The Earth isn't primarily about the war. The war does become prominent toward the end of the novel, but this novel centers on an Afghani-American woman in a small Afghan village with an American built women's medical clinic. Parveen Shamsa, who left Afghanistan with her parents when she was two years old, was drawn back to the land of her birth by a memoir called Mother Afghanistan written by a fictional American called Gideon Crane. She was inspired by Crane's reputation as a great humanitarian and wanted to help.
Unfortunately, sometimes reputations are built on lies. I was reminded of Greg Mortenson who was exposed in Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Crane was loosely based on Mortenson. I'd say that Amy Waldman's Crane was never the benevolent figure that Parveen imagined he was. I wondered how she could have had so elevated a view of Crane after having read his memoir. He doesn't exactly hide his wrongdoings. It also occurred to me to wonder who in U.S. law enforcement would know if he'd completed his community service in Afghanistan.
Parveen feels "unwitnessed" at first because there's no internet access that will allow her to post about her experiences. I imagined she would have that problem when I first picked up the book.
I finished A Door in the Earth still feeling ambivalent about Parveen. I also found the ending too inconclusive. If I were giving a letter grade to this book, it would be a B- .