This is a fast, enjoyable read, and gives you an idea of what life is like for women in Afghanistan. Ms. Rodriguez is a likable if not always reliable narrator. As she says herself, "Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing much good here. There are many of us Westerners who want to help Afghan women, but our efforts don't always help them in the ways that we hope they will. ... It takes a long time to understand how the complexities of these women's lives differ from the complexities of ours." (p.259)
What's great about Rodriguez is that she connects with the women in a way her fellow aid workers, mostly medical, don't, through hair and make-up, seemingly transcendent and universal concerns. Plus beauty salons are presented as an excellent means for women to gain independence and power in a society that affords them very little of either. Men can't even enter the female domain, so they have no idea how much money their wives make running a salon or working in one. It's hard out there for an Afghan man to try to be a hair salon pimp!
CATS: None. This is getting ridiculous. Please recommend some quality fiction or autobiography that feature cats, even if they're just lying on the bed all day. (Hi, Farfel!)