Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb

Title: Sewing Circles of Herat

Author: Christina Lamb

Publication Date: February 2004

Publisher: Harper Perennial Series

Pages: 384

ISBN: 9780060505271

This review is my opinion and I have not been compensated for it in any way.  

I think I'm going to try a different format for my book reviews. Usually, I just kind of give a synopsis of the book but I don't really talk about what I think of the book. I think this book review is the perfect book to try out this new format because it elicited such an emotional response in me that I just have to talk about that. But I do want to let you know a bit about the book too. So let's see how this goes. Please let me know if you like this format or the old way better. 

Christina Lamb is a journalist from England who has traveled to Afghanistan several times in her career. These visits to this country have ranged from before and after 9/11 and the terrorist attack on the United States.

This book is checkered throughout with letters from a young lady, Marri, in Afghanistan who explains of her love of dancing and red lipstick. However, Marri's letters are also full of fear, anger and hurt because of the men who force her to hide beneath the burqa.

In this book, Christina provides pieces of Afghanistan's history; the beauty the country used to possess. She speaks of interviews with members of the Taliban. She discusses wars and how children are brought up, not to play and love, but to fight, hate and win. Christina explores and writes about every side and she does so unbiasedly; as a good journalist should.

This is the book The Hubble chose for me for July. Yes, I've been reading it for 2 months. This is not a page turner by any means. In fact, when I finished the book I simply sat there holding it for a good 5 minutes before taking it back to The Hubble in the other room. When I walked out and handed him the book he asked me "how do you feel." The only answer I could give was "drained."

This book made me feel many emotions. I felt anger toward the men who beat Marri's mother because she removed her burqa to look at a swatch of fabric. I felt sad for the families who found their loved ones hanging from tree branches. I felt scared for the women who would have secret lessons so as to continue educating the young girls in the country.

It amazes me to see pictures of women walking through the streets of Afghanistan with heels, skirts, books and their hair done in modern styles. I can hardly envision the landscape when the country is described to have been a paradise with trees, gardens, birds and exquisite beauty. Afghanistan once was a tourist destination!

But 23 years of fighting has definitely marred our memories and perceptions of this once great land. But if I feel that way, how can I imagine it would feel to be a child brought up in that environment. Can it ever change??

When I read this book, I kept thinking this is why we are there. I couldn't help but be touched by Marri's distress or the tales of men being forced into the Taliban by being threatened. On the other hand, Christina Lamb described, in such amazing detail, the hatred some people in Afghanistan feel for Americans that I found myself wondering why the Hell should we help them?? They just want to kill our people!

I don't know if this country will ever have peace. I keep thinking about the movie "Lady in the Water." There's a part in the movie where they talk about the author of a book. This book will be written and it will be found by a young boy. This boy will take this book and read it. This boy will change the world because of this one book. I keep thinking we need that one book and that one boy. But even if the book and the boy were to meet, that boy wouldn't be able to read that book. Education in that country is gone.

When The Hubble was in Afghanistan last year, he got to talking with his interpreter during a recon mission. The Hubble asked his interpreter "Will Afghanistan ever have peace?" To this, the interpreter replied "Without education there will be no peace."

This book was difficult and emotional to read but I'm glad I did. I've been having trouble understanding why The Hubble is SO passionate about these people and why he wants to get back as quickly as possible. After reading this book...I get it. I absolutely get it....

So there it is. My unfiltered thoughts of this book. I'm so glad I read it. It may not have been a page turner and it may have taken me two months to read but I'm changed because I have read it.

5 of 5 stars.
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