This book is disappointing because it could have been more.
And that is the heart of the issue.
Without a doubt, Zaraghunna Kargar deserves acclaim simply for her work on the BBC’s Afghan’s Woman’s Hour.
The central problem with this book, why it doesn’t live up to the promise, is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It can’t decide if it wants to be a memoir or a collection of personal experiences. And because of this, it suffers.
The flaw shows up when Kargar interjects her personal story into the stories of the other women. Undoubtedly there are reasons for this, but I can’t figure out what they are unless it is to try to relate or connect the woman’s stories to those that live outside of Afghan. Kargar does this by relating how her life as an Afghani women whose family fled during the Taliban’s regime as well as the pressure to keep to traditions when she lived in the West. This in of itself could be an interesting memoir, but forced and rammed into comparison with the stories of the other women, at worse it cheapens the books; at best it makes Kargar look at a whiner. It doesn’t work; the only thing worse would be a Western woman trying to compare her parent’s preference for a boy child. It would undoubtedly be true, but there is a difference between that, and your parents making you are a boy or your mother debating about suicide because of it.