A few months ago, I published a status on my Facebook page requesting that my friends each suggest one book for me to read in 2016. I am recommended countless amounts of books every year (more like every month). For 2016, I decided to give every book recommended a chance. Each book would take priority, and would, no matter what, be read by the end of December.
I had to know that putting my trust (and my To Be Read list) in my friends' hands could be troublesome, but I had already written my status, so it was too late to back out now.
I wrote my friends' recommendations down (some were romances, some were children's books, some were non-fiction, and so on, and so forth), cut them into little strips, and placed them all in a bowl, so I could blindly choose my first suggestion.
The first slip I picked out was The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg. It is a non-fiction novel divulging Ms Nordberg's time in Afghanistan, as she discovers the hidden lives of the bacha posh (girls living their lives as boys).
Many of these girls are given a life as a bacha posh from their parents, who crave a boy in the family, but have produced only girls. In Afghanistan, it is of high honor to give birth to a boy, and giving birth to a girl is considered more of a disappointment.
When a girl is born, it is not unusual for parents to decide to "make her a boy." To cut her hair like a boy, to give her a masculine name, to have her wear pants instead of a dress or skirt, and to announce to everyone that they are now the proud parents of a boy. These are the bacha posh.
And these are the Underground Girls of Kabul.
Just by reading the description of this book, I knew I was done for. I am a sucker for non-fiction, and have recently taken a huge liking to reading about Afghanistan and surrounding countries. (Thank you, Khaled Hosseini.)
The Underground Girls of Kabul was positively fascinating. Jenny Nordberg's in depth information about these girls' and women's lives was addicting. The more I learned about the bacha posh, the more I craved learning even more about what occurs in their lives on a day-to-day basis.
But with great detail, comes great truth. This book does not glide over the gritty details of life in Afghanistan. Ms Nordberg truly gives you a deep perspective into what awaits in a girl's future in Afghanistan. It can be not-so-enjoyable to read about, but it is the truth.
At times, Ms Nordberg's writing can tend to be a bit lecture-ish, almost as if she is speaking in front of an audience as opposed to writing a book. These moments didn't last long, and they didn't sour my taste of the book in general.
This book brings enormous awareness to each girl's life, safety, and possible future in the middle east. Anyone who ventures to pick up The Underground Girls of Kabul will certainly come out of their reading experience more enlightened (and in some cases, like mine, more empowered and passionate about making an impact in the education and future of girls and women), and more educated about this movement.
I am so very thankful that this book was recommended to me, because, in all honesty, it opened my eyes to things much larger than the world surrounding me.
For more information, read more about the bacha posh here.