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Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Deborah Rodriguez, Kristin Ohlson

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1,571834,654 (3.55)98
Member:thedebs1107
Title:Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Authors:Deborah Rodriguez
Other authors:Kristin Ohlson
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2007), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez (2007)

  1. 00
    The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (citygirl)
    citygirl: A more erudite study of the lives of people in modern-day Kabul, by a Norweigan journalist who was allowed access to all parts of a large family.
  2. 00
    Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Both these books explore the themes of Western women living in Middle Eastern countries and adjusting to a new culture.
  3. 00
    Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Both these books tell powerful and inspirational stories about women making drastic differences in the lives of others.
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» See also 98 mentions

English (82)  Catalan (1)  All (83)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
True story middle 2010's — approx afghanistan — teaching women way to earn $ — horrific stories of no woman's rights, etc.
changing their life + hers?
Arranged marriage to Son — not well written but gets Afghan women's stories out

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.
  christinejoseph | May 17, 2018 |
This was such an enjoyable memoir!

Deborah Rodriguez left a horrid marriage to help women halfway across the globe in Afghanistan. She didn't understand the culture or speak the language. But her heart was deeply committed to the Kabul Beauty School project and the women she trained.

Becoming a beautician offered these Afghan women an opportunity to support their families, often including a large extended family. Many of them spent years away from Kabul while the Taliban was in control. They're immigrants and refugees in their home country.

Having financial power gives the women a chance to change their often abusive marital situation as well. The drive they have to succeed is inspiring, especially when factoring in the massive obstacles.

Debbie is a hot mess, and in that sense she's the perfect person to teach and encourage her students. She gets involved in the NGO and diplomatic communities, bringing fun and relaxation to all kinds of folks.

Her writing style is conversational, perfectly blending rollicking humor with heartbreaking sadness. It's like meeting a girlfriend for pedicures and a catch up!

Debbie includes a multitude of cultural lessons about Afghanistan that illustrate the conservative nature of (mostly) post-Taliban Kabul. Time and again, Debbie has no clue about the actual reality of her students' lives. But her genuine caring and feisty nature overcome a lot! ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this book and found the author to be incredible brave, resilient, resourceful and incredible, but she was naive at times, which is pretty natural I guess coming from the West and into a country that is basically the mirror opposite of the States and her choices could be deemed questionable.

She did so much with so little. She went far beyond the call for her students, friends, neighbors and to keep the salon and school going by any means necessary.

The life she choose for herself is not one I would ever choose, but she has a right to the life she wants to live and not be concerned what others ( including me ! ) think. I would never go there, for love or money. There is absolutely nothing at all there that appeals to me. From the non stop domination, control and abuse of women by men and by their own parents, siblings and extended family members, to second and third wives, value only of male children, dirt, animal slaughter on the sidewalks, the Taliban, shortages of water, electricity, etc. If you gave me a million bucks you'd not find me there and those primitive customs of showing the blood stained cloth after the first sexual encounter hours after the wedding with the family and wedding members hovering around the door, leaves me cold. Not my thing.

I struggle with some of this as I study Arabic and many of the Egyptian women and girls I speak to are fairly miserable, fearful of honor killings, dominated and controlled to the hilt by their husbands and fathers - and sex outside of marriage is against the law as well.

But it is her life and her story, and if she feel nothing but affection for this land, I won't rain on her parade. I do feel badly however that she more or less abandoned her children in the States for 5 years with their grandmother and elected to marry an Afghan man after knowing him for 20 days and while not hellish, was certainly no match made in heaven.

IMHO only - the hate thrown towards the author by her supposedly lack of writing ability and general personality and considered flaws is shocking really. My gut feeling tells me that those who ripped her to shred would not be able to spend one day there without their lights, gas, cars, maids, good jobs, nice houses, annual vacations. She did one hell of a job living in that hell hole. ( )
  REINADECOPIAYPEGA | Jan 11, 2018 |
It gives inside view of live in Afghanistan after Taliban, mainly a male community. Debbi a hair dresser went to help any way she can. She opened a beauty school to help Afghan women to earn money in way that did not clash with there culture. They earn money by opening their saloon ( a woman beauty saloon) and gain Independence. The book is full of heart crying stories of Afghan women and how the war affected each of them.

Liked that she always have a deep respect for the culture and she embraced it, married an Afghan man, wore the scarf, was very protective for her girls.
( )
  melmeseery | Sep 22, 2017 |
As a memoir, this is an enjoyable read--Rodriguez's voice is entertaining and utterly readable, and there's humor to go around. Reading about her experiences is engrossing--especially in the beginning when readers are first getting accustomed to her voice and wanderings--and there's a lot to be said for her attention to detail relating to what it took her time to get used to in Kabul, what shocked her, and the details of day-to-day life (though, it would have been nice to see more along these lines).

But, at the same time, readers who want a real view into the culture, and into the women whose lives were involved with Rodriguez, might end up disappointed. As is so often the case with memoirs, and rightfully so perhaps, Rodriguez is at the center of this work, and her concerns about the school and the girl are paramount. But there's a sort of self-concern which is almost uncomfortable as a reader gets further into the work---a sort of day-to-day focus on the now and on what comes next for Rodriguez herself that forgets to consider very real consequences and context.

So, yes, I have mixed feelings about this. I wanted more, but I was glad to wander through Rodriguez's experiences with her as she relived them. I'm just left wondering about the influence here, and wishing I knew more of what came next in terms of the aftermath that Rodriguez left behind for those who got close to her. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 27, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Rodriguezprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ohlson, KristinAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Luckily, I am a lady
Mariam of my own epoch

I have conscience,
Intelligence and talent
But am fated to continue
Existence
In captivity behind the
Bars of prison of life
As if I am a jail-bird

I want to declare my feelings
But nobody seems to realize me

I am being asked to stay thoroughly out of sight,
In the darkness
Why?
Because it is easy for them to disgrace me and discard me

They have covered me from head to toe
Amputated my legs
Shut my mouth

Oh!
I want to be known
If not as I am a female
But through my knowledge

Let the years go
Let them have my written words

One day they will ask whose
unique words are these

Maybe at that time they will
Know me as
a female who can do something

I am hopefull...
                                 Farida Alimi
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my father, Junior Turner, who passed away June 5, 2002, while I was on my first trip to Afghanistan. Dad, I never got a chance to tell you about Afghanistan and the school. You left me too soon. I know you would love Sam, my husband—he is just like you, but Afghan style. I know you would be worried, but also very happy that I am following my dream. I miss you.
First words
The women arrive at the salon just before eight in the morning.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812976738, Paperback)

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.

Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.

With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian aid group. Surrounded by people whose skills--as doctors, nurses, and therapists--seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus the idea for the Kabul Beauty School was born. Within that small haven, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts, ultimately giving her the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style."--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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