cover image Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

Suraya Sadeed. Hyperion/Voice, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4013-4131-2

In a well plotted, fluid narrative co-written with Damien Lewis, the founder of the charity Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) chronicles her long, arduous journey from impecunious Afghan refugee to the U.S. in 1982 to organizer of numerous clinics and girls' schools in her war-torn country. As the daughter of Kabul's governor, she feared for her life under the Soviet invasion and escaped with her husband and daughter; in America she got her real estate license and enjoyed a successful and wealthy life in Virginia%E2%80%94cut short with her husband's sudden massive heart attack and death in 1993. Yet with her loss came the dawning realization of the terrible hardship endured by her fellow Afghans after the withdrawal of the Soviets, the infighting of the mujahideen, and the rise of the Taliban. With money raised within the Afghan community in the U.S. for her new charity, she resolved to head into Afghanistan and administer the cash herself to the refugee camps. Her na%C3%AFvet%C3%A9 and tenacity allowed her to bypass the oily administrators of the camps and reach the neediest women and children, start schools and clinics, despite the enormous personal peril she courted as a woman reviled by the Taliban. Sadeed inserts numerous moving personal stories, such as meeting by chance a woman she went to school with, transformed and aged horribly. (June)