The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
- Hardcover: 275 pages
- Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (April 10, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400065593
- ISBN-13: 978-1400065592
After much anticipation, I finally found a copy of The Kabul Beauty School and instantly bought it. Eagerly, I started reading this, in between doses of The City of Joy. The Kabul Beauty School is not so much fiction as it is a memoir of Deborah Rodriguez, an American hairdresser who goes into Kabul, with the ambition of helping the women of Kabul achieve a semblance of independence by opening a beauty school there.
The book isn't as serious as other stories I've read on Afghanistan, but it cannot be denied that the trials and tribulations that the women in the book face are very real. There is domestic abuse, poverty, desperation and yet there is the triumphant fight that some of the women put up against their circumstances and often abusive husbands. It's a book about friendship and love amongst women and the bond of sisterhood that knows no boundaries ; both geographical and cultural. I have to say though that as interesting and easy to read as this book was, at times I found myself getting irked by her ignorance as to the cultures and ways of life of the Afghans.
Deborah is married to an Afghan man, Sam, and at times I find their marriage stupefying. For one, they hardly speak the same language. Deborah speaks elementary Dari, whilst Sam speaks a smattering of English, and then there is the huge cultural difference that both of them face. I know it's not uncommon for people from different cultural backgrounds to get together, but the fact that independent Debbie allows herself to be match made the traditional Afghan way to a man she's only known for 20 days just seems a little odd. At times, the conversation between Sam and her is comically cute :
At one of these parties, I introduce Sam to a guy who was working in the opium poppy eradication program. "He's one of the poppy killers" I said.
"Poppy killers?" Sam's eyes widened, He almost shuddered as he looked at the guy. " Debbie, I thought you loved dogs!"
All in all, the book isn't about Debbie's personal life so I shan't go too deeply into my thoughts on that, I do find it amazing however how she's brave enough to plunge into the depths of Afghan household chaos and other problems that her students at the beauty academy face.A true champion for women's rights, she seems to have made a difference in the lives of her students, with the help of generous endorsements by beauty products manufacturers such as M.A.C , Clairol and Revlon to name a few. So, have any of you read the book yet? If so, what are your thoughts on the book ?