Day 14: It should have been the beginning . . .
All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her home town, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read.
But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Just blocks from the guesthouse. Sending shockwaves through the community.
The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Marie’s closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning.
When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.
And in the end . . .
It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her community-all of it-to evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?
I decided to do something different and read a book from a genre I don’t usually read from: literary fiction. I think that’s what this genre is, but it felt like nonfiction, and so I will do my review differently. My thoughts:
I picked up this novel because I love to learn about different cultures and different people and on this hand, this book did not disappoint. You hear one thing from the media about Afghanistan, but it’s quite another country from the point of view of someone who lived there and loved it. You learn about how the greet each other, the sayings Afghanis say for different events in their lives, just how involved the Muslim religion is there. You can barely go two steps without having to say or do something in regards to Allah. Because Maria is a woman, I learned more about life of an Afghan from a female perspective and it was fascinating.
This novel also taught me a thing or two about trying to witness in a country like Afghanistan. Guess what? It’s hard. I think to be an effective missionary, you have to be like Maria and really learn the culture and the people and more importantly, love them. Several times, Maria was able to effectively insert the teaching of the gospel in her conversations. She rarely seemed fearful and trusted that God would take care of it all.
If I treated this novel as nonfiction, then I didn’t really have complaints. But as a work of fiction, I had a hard time connecting with Maria. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. And though everything happened in two weeks, there were many moments where things just slowed down and it wasn’t until I was at the end that I was like, wait a minute, it’s only been two weeks. So I say to you, this novel is not exactly plot driven or character driven, but you will learn a lot about being a missionary in a foreign country. And I must say, my hats off to them (or rather my prayers with them).
**I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**