Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A different look at the war...

Wanting Mor Rukhsana Khan

After Jameela's mother dies, her father takes her from their small Afghani village to Kabul. In the city, Jameela's devout and conservative following of Islam is seen as proof that she is nothing more than a slack-jawed yokel. Her refusal to change, to do what she considers sinful acts (such as going without her porani to cover her hair and face) leads her father to ultimately abandon her.

Jameela finds her way to an orphanage where she learns to read and write and tries to live up to her mother's advice, "If you cannot be beautiful, you should at least be good. People will appreciate that."

While definitely a bleak premise, this novel is ultimately hopeful. I most appreciated that as Jameela grew, she never did cave on what she felt was the right way to practice her faith. Eventually, she chooses to wear the chadri (burka), as it frees up her hands so she doesn't need to always draw her porani across her face to cover it. I also liked her confusion about the role of Americans. One on hand, the American soldiers are the ones who killed her entire extended family, they are the ones who bombed Kabul, but they're also the ones who pay for the orphanage and give Jameela surgery to correct her cleft lip. She never can decide if they're good or bad or somewhere in between and I think this reflection and indecision are very real, especially for a girl from a traditional village that didn't see the effects of the removal of the Taliban like they did in larger cities like Kabul.

A beautiful book.

Book Provided by... my local library

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