Book Reviews of Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Kabul Beauty School An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Author: Deborah Rodriguez, Kristin Ohlson
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ISBN-13: 9780812976731
ISBN-10: 0812976738
Publication Date: 12/26/2007
Pages: 304
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 213

3.8 stars, based on 213 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

45 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 330 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
I know that there is a bit of controversy concerning the "good" that Debbie Rodriguez did in Kabul, but I really enjoyed this quick read book. Debbie is a young woman who is bored with her life and after two failed marriages decides that she would like to join up with an NGO (Non-Governmental Oraganization) and help people somewhere in the world. She is attached to a group of medical professionals sent to Afghanistan and not knowing how she could help - mentions by chance that she is a hair stylist. Little did she know that this profession had been banned by the Taliban and finding someone who could do hair was next to impossible in this country. Westerners, aid works and Afghani women swarmed to her. Knowing that there had to be more then just doing hair she approached US companies to see if they would support her desires to open a beauty school in Kabul to train the women there how to be successful beauticians so they could support themselves and their families without being hidden in the shadows like they had been for some many years. The women, their stories, their personal trials are just amazing and inspiring. Just to know that when presented with insurmountable odds, the human spirit can still beat those odds.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Debbie Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as an aid worker. She went because she has a big heart and also to escape from her abusive husband. She is a hairdresser and at first feels like she cannot contribute much as everyone else on her aid team is trained in the medical field. She eventually learns that the Taliban closed all of the hair salons because they thought they were immoral. Debbie ends up going back to Afghanistan to open up a school as being a hairdresser is one of the few jobs open to women. She also ends up in an arranged marriage to an Afghani man - and they don't even speak each other's language when the first get married!! The book is basically a series of stories about the people she encountered in her life in Kabul. Some of the stories were horrifying, some of them were amusing. It gave me a glimpse into the life of an Afghani woman ... and made me very glad that I live here in the USA, not in Afghanistan!
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I really enjoyed reading this book. Having grown up in the middle east, I was able to connect well with the author and her description of her experiences in Afghanistan. Although she is not a strong writer, the story is an enjoyable easy read. I've read many memoirs and what I like most about this is the author's honesty and tenacity about her life and experiences. She does not embellish the truth nor does she exaggerate about the difficulties she faced. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs.
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Helpful Score: 7
Absolutely fascinating glimpse into the lives of Afghani women. Endearing, interesting. Lovely read.
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Helpful Score: 7
Light reading. Debbie, with her US experience in her mothers Beaty Salon, goes to Kabul. Eventually she sets up and runs a Beauty School for Afagani women. The book is composed of her story laced with the stories of the women she met. She has sucess as well as failure stories. I am amazed that with her culture naivity she didn't end up getting herself killed.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This was an enjoyable, quick read. I wouldn't say that the author is an amazing writer, but I was impressed that the story flowed well and was easy and fun to read as opposed to many non-authors that write memoirs that are difficult to read and the lack of style seriously gets in the way of the enjoyment.

This is a book that is easy to read as the author's experiences are almost separate stories in each chapter, so you can pick up and put down as need be without losing flow of the story line. The stories of Afghanistan are amazing and a good lesson for us in developed countries and all that we have, although the author herself seems oblivious to her bad life choices and neediness that eventually takes fruit in her becoming the second wife of an Afghan man and then becoming upset when he has relations and another child with his first wife. It doesn't detract totally from the book, but did make me wonder from time to time why someone with their own demons wasn't taking the time to confront and deal with them as opposed to doing for everyone else.

Enjoyable book, you will learn something and feel grateful for your own life.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
A great read and an interesting life of a woman who really proves that anyone can make a an impact on other people's lives. The book offers a refreshing perspective and true account of a beautician who goes to Afghanistan and gives many women the opportunity to really help themselves and their family.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 234 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I read this book quickly and was fascinated by the cultural differences the author embraced while trying to help the women of Afghanistan empower themselves. Deborah definitely made choices I wouldn't make by leaving her life behind in America and marrying a man she couldn't initially communicate with who was already married to another. I do respect her courage though as she fought battles to open and sustain a beauty school in such a war torn country that still treats their women like slaves and 2nd class citizens. The stories of some of the women she encountered and befriended are absolutely compelling. I would love to hear more about the author, her marriage, and her life in Afghanistan. A sequel would be great as things are constantly changing in that part of our world, and more stories to be told.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Really gives you an excellent perspective about life in Afghanistan for women after the fall of the Taliban. Great book!
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Helpful Score: 3
This was a good enough book and an easy read. But The Bookseller of Kabul provides a more comprehensive depiction of life in and the culture of Afghanistan.
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Helpful Score: 2
Imagine Steel Magnolias set in Afghanistan.... Deborah Rodriguez lifts the veil to give readers a glimpse into what is, for most Americans, a completely foreign culture. Read about how Rodriguez's enthusiasm for her work, her sense of adventure and her feeling of kinship to Afghan women drove her to establish a beauty school in Kabul under the Taliban. She shares fascinating details of Afghan wedding traditions, women's lives, and even her own marriage to an Afghani. This is the story behind what we hear on the news here in the US and is a great read for those interested in how women are seeking power in a patriarchy. It's also good for insight into how difficult it is for American values to be applied within another culture. Rodriquez writes of her personal culture clash with both humor and sensitivity.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is an excellent book .It was funny,very sad, informative , and down right interesting. You learn so much about the poor women in Afghanistan and what they go through. They have all the dreams that we American women have but they have to hide everything even their thoughts. Ridiculous what the men put them through. Every woman in America should read this book to see how lucky we really are.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
If you liked Three Cups Of Tea, you would like this one. It has to do with the treatment of women in Afghanistan during 2002 through 2007.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 148 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Read as an ARC. Great way to learn about post-Taliban Afghanistan and how women live there.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 1131 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
How much good a beauty school might do in Kabul is debatable, and I frankly can't imagine worrying about highlights and pedicures in the midst of war. Certainly the author went to Afghanistan with a load of Western ideas about what might "help" the women she met. Some of the vignettes, tragic as they were, also had the flavor of soap opera. But in Rodriguez's favor, she certainly had the courage of her convictions, was obviously willing to learn as well as teach, and gives a very readable real-person look at life in Kabul.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 194 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Enjoyed the book for the most part, although the author strikes me as being a bit impulsive...like marrying a man who doesn't speak English.
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Helpful Score: 2
A very readable and enlightening look at modern-day Afghanistan though the eyes of an American woman who started as a relief worker, but who stayed to teach beautician skills to several classes of Afghani women, and married an Afghani man. The book tells amazing tales of modern problems in the country, but never in an overblown or maudlin way. It explores the Afghan life and, to a lesser extent, the Western population as well. The book was quite approachable and I enjoyed it.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 173 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
When "Crazy Deb" Rodriquez agrees to go to Afghanistan, she assumes she'll be nursing the wounded with her basic training. Little did she know that her true value would come from her vocation as a hairdresser. Not only would she provide training to allow Afgani women to make their own money, she would become a sister/mother to many of them - and them to her.

While I couldn't imagine living the life that Deb explains - there is a beauty in the people and the family she created there.

The people she writes about are compelling and the situation is incredible. Fascinating stuff.
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Helpful Score: 1
This may be more the narrator than the text, but I found parts of this to be haughty and "better than you" - if that makes any sense? HOWEVER -- this story is amazing. I knew much of this, but I also learned some new things. Some that have, once again, changed my thoughts and views on that part of the world. Ms. Rodriguez is to be commended for all she has done - and apparently continues to do - for these women. She may be "only a hairdresser" but she obviously gave some of the women the tools to get away from not only brutal marriages, but a way to increase their own self-worth and self-esteem. A very good memoir - a few places are a bit uncomfortable to read, it's not that it's brutal - more than it's brutally honest. I squirmed a bit in a few places. Well worth a read or listen.
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Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book. Have thought about this book often since I read it...as it is the saga of an ordinary person trying to make a difference using her own skills...despite adversity. well worth a read.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 107 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just put this one down and I'm sorry it had to end. I LOVED this book! It's about an American hairdresser who goes to Kabul and opens a school for the Afghani women. It tells of their hardships, their laughter, and that the bond of women that transcends the continents. This is a must read!
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Helpful Score: 1
The stories of the women were very moving, I didnt have a great deal of respect for the author though. She left her two boys at home and went overseas to help others off and on for years. She became the 2nd wife of Afghan Man. They fought alot and threw things at each other. His first wife gets pregnant with their 8th child. She weeps often. But she helps many women. Her husband has some business connections that are helpful so marrying him was a smart move. I think she was kinda lost too, and these women helped her find some answers.

Despite how I felt about the authors behavior, I thought the book was well done. It also explained better than any other book I have read, about the different Tribes.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on
Helpful Score: 1
Wonderfully refreshing, humorous and realistic account of one woman's experiences with helping women in Afghanistan. Couldn't put it down. It left me feeling grateful for all I have as an American woman and aching for the suffering of women around the world. It left me hopeful that the situation can be helped in unsuspecting ways - even through beauty salons.
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Helpful Score: 1
I can honestly say this was one of the best books I have read this year. It was well written and was engaging from cover to cover. I wish there were more! It's honest, inspiring, and wicked good.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was disappointed in this book. I found the author's descriptions of day to day life in Afghanistan very interesting, and her depiction of the lives of women a little chilling. However, about halfway through I began to find her self-described hysteria a little grating. These are real people living in a harsh climate and a rigid societal structure. The author professed to love the country and the people, but every time she encountered core differences between east and west, she seemed to come unglued. Surely she did not believe she could change an entrenched belief set one perm at a time? There was a deeper story here, possibly about hope, but I don't think the author ever captured it. By the end of the book, I wasn't sure what she had accomplished, for herself, or her Afghan friends. I gave it three stars for the point in time descriptions of daily life and atmospherics.
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Helpful Score: 1
Good insight into what life is like for the women of Afghanistan, but had a hard time liking the author, which made it difficult to enjoy the book. Deborah Rodriguez comes across as a vain, self-centered, foolish woman who acts before she thinks. At times she puts others at risk -- not least of which I suspect happened to some of the women she wrote about. She's back in the U.S. making a comfortable life for herself on the proceeds from the book; they're back in Afghanistan with husbands who've heard some of the personal things written about them in the book. Given what you learn from the book about the life of women in Afghanistan, you can only surmise those women are being made even less comfortable than they were before the book. Nevertheless, it's a good resource to open your eyes to the real Afghanistan, not the one the media picks and chooses for us to see.
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Helpful Score: 1
Reviewed by Steph for TeensReadToo.com

Deborah Rodriguez is a beautician from Michigan who went over to Afghanistan after September 11th to help in any way she could. She quickly fell in love with the country and wanted to reestablish the Afghan beauticians who went out of existence when the Taliban took over. Along with help from others, she opened a beauty school where she trained Afghan women to become beauticians who could then open up their own beauty salons.

This amazing true story is heartwarming yet incredibly sad at the same time. The reader learns the personal and tragic story of the many Afghan women that Rodriguez befriends. We learn of their arranged marriages to men twice their age, abusive husbands who will divorce them if the women can't bear a son, and monetary struggles and desperate attempts to find that money. It is also wonderful to read about these same women becoming independent and happy due to their education from the beauty school and their friendship with Ms. Rodriguez.

This book is truly inspiring and educational. The reader learns about many customs and misconceptions about Afghanistan and its people through the real life experiences of Rodriguez. Her desire to help the kind Afghan people can inspire anyone to do the same.

KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is sure to please all readers who are open to learning about a foreign people, their customs, and an American woman who felt the need to dedicate her life to those less fortunate.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 40 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a quick read ... a fascinating look at what life is like for Afghan women. I also admired the bravery of Debbie and her students.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Steph for TeensReadToo.com

Deborah Rodriguez is a beautician from Michigan who went over to Afghanistan after September 11th to help in any way she could. She quickly fell in love with the country and wanted to reestablish the Afghan beauticians who went out of existence when the Taliban took over. Along with help from others, she opened a beauty school where she trained Afghan women to become beauticians who could then open up their own beauty salons.

This amazing true story is heartwarming yet incredibly sad at the same time. The reader learns the personal and tragic story of the many Afghan women that Rodriguez befriends. We learn of their arranged marriages to men twice their age, abusive husbands who will divorce them if the women can't bear a son, and monetary struggles and desperate attempts to find that money. It is also wonderful to read about these same women becoming independent and happy due to their education from the beauty school and their friendship with Ms. Rodriguez.

This book is truly inspiring and educational. The reader learns about many customs and misconceptions about Afghanistan and its people through the real life experiences of Rodriguez. Her desire to help the kind Afghan people can inspire anyone to do the same.

KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is sure to please all readers who are open to learning about a foreign people, their customs, and an American woman who felt the need to dedicate her life to those less fortunate.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 101 more book reviews
I absolutely loved this book! If your looking for the inside scoop into middle eastern womens lives then this book has what your looking for! This is not a deeply political read, to me it was more about a group of women, their friendships, and their secrets!
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 8 more book reviews
This book is very informative and will open your eyes to what the women in Kabul go through just to get an education that we in the United States tend to take for granted. It is definitely worth the read.
reviewed Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil on + 13 more book reviews
This was an enjoyable audio book from many perspectives; first I like the narrator's voice immensely. The story itself is very fascinating and really makes one appreciate the freedoms in America, but also appreciate the values of other cultures. I liked the way the Afghan culture was presented; as something to honor and appreciate, vs. something to judge and criticize. In spite of the frustrations and setbacks D Rodriguez suffered, it is clear the author has a true love of the Afghan people. And that is what the book is about - her experience with and love for the people. I recommend it!
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What a thought-provoking book. I was surprised that it was "okay" for women to own and work in a beauty shop in their very restrictive society. The author was very couragous, going to Afganistan and setting up a business on her own when she didn't speak the language or have any knowledge of the customs. A great read for all Western women!
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Not one of my favorite books. The author/protagonist does a good job taking us to the far away land of Afghanistan and relaying the plight of many Afghan women but I was disappointed that I couldn't like the author/protagonist. By the end of the book, I found it troubling that she could travel thousands of miles to live and help others, while neglecting her own children and if the book is true to facts she exposed these women's, who shared their secrets with her, to danger.
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Great book.
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I loved this book! The story is a re-written account from the author's diary from the time she was in Kabul. Her descriptions beautifully evoke the beauty and devastation of Afganistan without getting too graphic on the negative parts. She subtly describes some of the more quiet, and mostly invisible, horrors of the Middle East. One thing I really liked was how she gradually realizes that people are not always what they seem to be at first. She exhibits the bravery of someone who isn't afraid of anything because she had already experienced plenty of nastiness in her life and it made her brave rather than breaking her.

I expected the story to be ghost-written but it turns out the the second author is a friend of hers who helped put the book together. Deborah's voice is distinct and clear, and remarkably beautiful.
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This was a well written book, with a candid view into the daily life in Kabul. I enjoyed reading it very much.
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A very interesting book and story of an American women's impressions of Afghanistan. She had a lot of guts and seemed to have no fear of traveling by herself in such a dangerous country. She was impatient and impulsive but had a big heart. I enjoyed the book a lot.
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I was not impressed with this book. The author was an adventurous woman who seemed to do a great service to the woman of Kabul by opening her beauty school and befriending them. However, she was quite a bizarre character herself, leaving her kids, becoming the second wife of a Muslim man she couldnt even communicate with when they first married. I couldnt relate to her despair about her marriage problems, how could she be upset when his first wife had a baby?? was she out of touch with reality? How could she NOT see what she was getting herself into? The story kept my interest till she got married and then in my opinion she really lost credibility and I started to wonder if her stories were actually all true or if she was just a good storyteller. Dont waste your time - I enjoyed ,Reading Lolita in Tehran,and ,A thousand splendid suns, if you want to know more about women in this region.
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I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audio book. I finished it in 2 days! The author does a great job in describing the conditions she faced on a day to day basis in Kabul. I am encouraged that she was able to empower women in such a positive way!!
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Excellent book! Both funny and sad. A real page turner. I highly recommend it to anybody who likes action, adventure, and mystery.
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This book was very enlightening about the lives of these women in current times. I think it is a very inspiring story. The author has done so much with her gift.
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Surprisingly easy to read for a non-fiction book. I love the author's description of and insight into the people and culture of Afhganistan. Refreshingly original! The only drawback to this book was wanting to hear the ending to each persons story.
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Informative.
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Good read.