Review: Lipstick in Afghanistan

Why I picked it: I seldom request a book from an author but I did request this one.  I finally feel settled after a crazy 2010 and have time to read really good books, about tough topics that allow me to learn.

Synopsis: Roberta Gately’s lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman’s moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected.

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately’s raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

Type: Fiction
Taliban destroys 6th century
Buddha's, March 2001

Quick Take: Highly Recommend - I finished reading this book a few weeks ago and am still thinking about it.  I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time.  It's a must read (it's that simple)!!

Lipstick is important to the story, an Afghan woman is not allowed to wear lipstick beyond the walls of her home.  The American brings lipstick with her and little does she know it will have so much meaning throughout her journey.

I know the Taliban of new stories, but reading about the daily struggles to survive one day in Afghanistan if the Taliban are living in a village is a horrible situation.  The people, especially women, are subjected to so much violence yet have found ways to live with the promise of a happier life.

The Buddha's are a part of the story (located in Bamiyan):  Sixth Century Buddha's destroyed by Taliban  - declaring idols are infidels of God

Rating: 4/5 stars

Country: Afghanistan
Source: Review Copy