Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson


Kabul Beauty School Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Author: Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson performed by Bernadette Dunne

Title: Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: (Duration) 8:59:30

Geographical Setting: Kabul, Afghanistan; Michigan

Time Period: 21st century

Plot Summary: In a truly compelling narrative, Deborah Rodriguez recounts her experience running a beauty school in Kabul, Afghanistan. In explaining how she came to arrive in Kabul, Rodriguez describes her life up until then. There were the years as a hairdresser, there was the time she bought a boat and hosted parties for people she barely knew, there was the time she was employed as a corrections officer, and there was the time she revisited her faith and married a preacher. It is the unhappy marriage to the preacher that motivates Rodriguez to travel, and it is her desire to do something meaningful that leads her to attend terrorist disaster-relief training in Chicago just three weeks prior to 9/11. In no time, Rodriguez is in Kabul with a humanitarian organization and finds her hairdressing skills are in great demand. After much negotiation the Kabul Beauty School is up and running. The students of the beauty school are carefully drawn, their stories equally inspiring and heart-wrenching. The plight of women in Afghanistan during and after Taliban rule is well-illustrated through Rodriguez’s Western eyes, explaining cultural differences one only learns over time and with many questions. An incredibly immersive story that brings vivid life to an unfamiliar but oft-discussed country on the other side of the globe.

Subject Headings: Women — Afghanistan — Kabul — Social life and customs — 21st century; Muslim women — Afghanistan — Kabul — Social conditions — 21st century; Kabul Beauty School; Beauty shops — Social aspects — Afghanistan — Kabul; Kabul (Afghanistan) — Social life and customs — 21st century.

Appeal: compelling, measured, relaxed, bittersweet, compassionate, contemplative, haunting, humorous, impassioned, moving, poignant, well-drawn

3 terms that best describe this book: culturally immersive; thought-provoking; inspiring

Similar Authors and Works:
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (war-torn Afghanistan, inspiration, inequality).
Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron (travel writing, Silk Road, Afghanistan, Eastern culture).
The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah (travel writing, Afghanistan, cultural identity).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately (character-driven, Afghanistan, moving, lyrical).
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (historical fiction, psychological fiction, Paris, Holocaust survivor).
Peony in Love by Lisa See (historical fiction, love stories, 17th century China).

Name: Sasha Neri


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One Response to “Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson”

  1. Sverige Says:

    This book is wonderful! It is a humorously told story of a woman’s journey to Afgahnistan to selflessly do what she can to make other women’s lives better by teaching them a skill (hairdressing) while bettering the author’s own life through the relationships and understanding she acquires while there. It’s inspiring and offers a glimpse into the veiled world of Middle Eastern women, their heartbreaking stories, their customs and their perserverence.

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