Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg: A Review

I recently read The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg.

In Afghanistan, girls and women are worth nothing aside from their ability to produce sons for a family.  The birth of a boy is cause for celebration; the birth of a girl, cause for shame and ridicule.  In a culture where honor is everything, and appearances must be kept up, what's a girl to do?  What is a family to do when they've produced no sons?  They create one.

While on assignment in Afghanistan, reporter Jenny Nordberg uncovered, quite by accident, the practice of bacha posh.  Literally translated as "dressed up like a boy," a bacha posh is a girl, temporarily raised as a boy and presented to the world as such.

This book brings us along on her journey to dig more into the practice of bacha posh.  Along the way, we are swept up in the lives of Ms. Nordberg's vivid characters, learning more about the hows and whys of bacha posh, and the effect on the girls, their families, and their society.

I found this book to be just fascinating.  I found it hard to put down, and that's rare for me, when reading nonfiction.  I needed to keep reading to find out what became of the families that Ms. Nordberg met along the way.  The author's story-telling is exceptional and her themes reach beyond Afghanistan, examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who are oppressed everywhere.

Bottom line: This book was fascinating and made me think.  Highly recommend.

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

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