This is one of those quietly powerful books. It starts simply enough and then the author begins to reveal all that can and does happen to Afghan women (and men who don't "toe the line" or who stand up for a woman's rights). The horrorible things that are so matter of factly stated are just breath-taking. As a free woman in a free country, it is hard to imagine, but this book opens your eyes to the reality of what IS happening in that country (and others). Highly recommend this book for both women and men- never will your eyes be blinded to such again.
The story begins when Zoya is a young girl growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her parents are rebels working for a free Afghanistan. There are many dangers if the government, which ever-one happens to be in control of the country, finds out about their actions. Zoya's mother belongs to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which challenges the governments treatment of women and their rights. When both of Zoya's parents are killed she is taken to Pakistan. The story of her education and her journey to bring the plight of Afghan women to the world's attention is both enpowering, as a woman, and at the same time horrific for the things she sees' and experiences each day. I find it unfathomable that humans can slaughter other human beings all in the name of religion. The Taliban baned women from wearing shoes that produce sound while walking(a man must not hear a woman's footsteps). A ban on women laughing loudly (no man should hear a woman's voice). Whipping of women in public for having exposed ankles. A ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers. No music or television, no newspapers, nothing except what the government wants the people to hear and know. How people endure and keep fighting is amazing. The book is worth reading, I hope you take the time to read it.
This book, though serious and VERY WELL WRITTEN is a lighter reading for those that are interested in this subject.
"Zoya" as the woman calls her self to protect her identity, starts telling her story at the age of 5. We learn about her parents who were intellectuals resisting the current occupiers (Russians) of Afghanistan. Her tale is simple and very expressive. Eventually (no spoilers :D ) she ends up in a RAWA school for girls in Pakistan where she is groomed to take an active role in the organization. This part of her telling takes about 60% of the book. In her teens and early adulthood she does dangerous tasks for the women rights movement and witnesses great horrors.
She describes her nerve-racking 'adventures' with limited detail and keeps the writing on a very simple level, that is suitable for younger audience. (She gives the feeling of a third person re-telling). I found the book very informative, when it came to Taliban, the Afghan culture and history. I especially liked her grandmother who despite being raised to be obedient and dutiful, could see the flaws of her cultural limitations and refused to impose them on her adoptive granddaughter. However I also felt that the book was not up to my age lv. It is possible that it might be because I read a great deal of this genre, and had books that were more passionate and/or challenging.
But over all it is a worthy reading, a testimony to an era that is not yet history and could be coming back if we (the USA & UN) are not willing to provide help. I would recommend "Zoya" as a good introductory book for people not yet very familiar with this genre, as well as young (teen) readers, or even as a good women's studies book.