cover image What Changes Everything

What Changes Everything

Masha Hamilton. Unbridled (, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60953-091-4

Conflict in Afghanistan sets the stage for this engaging narrative weave from Hamilton (31 Hours), Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Kabul. Tragedy strikes when Todd, the director of a humanitarian organization in Kabul, is suddenly abducted. Clarissa, his wife in Brooklyn, struggles to deal with her now-detained husband's uncertain fate and inability "to celebrate the plain pillow that catches one's head each night." Then there is Stela, a heartbroken Cleveland mother who has lost one son in battle and her other son to a grave misunderstanding. Keeping her bookstore to "feel less alone," she writes endless letters in an effort to express herself. Mandy, a mother from Texas, travels to Kabul as a hospital aid worker to better understand her own personal tragedy, for "maybe she'd heal herself in their hospitals, by a taste of the country that had chewed up her son and then spit him back." These tales merge with the true story of Mohammad Najibullah, late president of Afghanistan, recounted through imagined letters to his daughters. Straddling two lands while depicting the strength of human relationships even in the darkest moments, this seamless blend of fact and fiction through illuminating prose makes the story a rewarding and thought-provoking read. (June)