Our local "no-name" book club recently read The Breadwinner which reminded me of this book, not literally but just because of the subject matter.
Reading this book was a real shock, forcing me to rethink my position on the role of the UN in Afghanistan. Do I believe everything this brave woman has written? I'm not so sure. BUT . . . I do believe what she has to say about the conditions in Afghanistan.
The short history is that first the West aided the Taliban in Afghanistan to push out the Russians. Then they aided the Northern Alliance warlords against the Taliban. Now the UN-backed "democratic" government of Afghanistan is legitimizing the power of the Northern Alliance by seating them in the new government. When Joya spoke out against these warlords she was removed from her democratically-earned seat in the government and is spending the rest of her life back in a burqua, not because of her religion, because it is the only way to protect herself from assassination. She has had to return to living underground and under a false name, something she is used to since her time teaching women in illegal schools during the reign of the Taliban.
The biggest shock for me is the treatment of women and children in Afghanistan. I always argued for UN involvement in Afghanistan because it would lead to the end of terrorists' and warlords' power in the country and to protect and improve the lot of women and children. From what I've read in Joya's book and what I have since read from other sources, this isn't happening. The warlords have the power and women and children have none.
Joya's book is compelling and heart-breaking and shocking. Her writing style resembles a person giving an impassioned speech that lasts for a very long time. She often repeats herself. She is dogmatic.
Was this book a good read? As far as style, no. Because it gives insight into the life of the Afghan people, yes.