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Friday, June 19, 2009

Veiled Freedom...Review

About the book:
Na├»ve and idealistic, relief worker Amy Mallory arrives in Kabul ready to change the world. She soon discovers that as a woman in Afghanistan, the challenges she faces are monumental. As the new security chief to the Minister of the Interior, former Special Forces veteran Steve Wilson is disillusioned to find that the country he fought to set free has fallen into its old habits of greed and corruption. Afghani native Jamil returns to his homeland seeking a job while his painful past continues to haunt him. All three search for truth . . . and for freedom . . . but at what cost? 

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. The book opens in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001. Steve Wilson, a young, idealistic soldier, and the American forces have liberated Afghanistan, or so they thought. Eight years later, when Steve returns to Afghanistan as security chief to the Ministry of Interior, he's no longer idealistic and is angered at the greed and corruption he sees everywhere.

Amy Mallory, a young relief worker, arrives in Kabul ready to change the world and liberate the women of Afghanistan. As a Christian woman, she is faced with many obstacles but, still, comes to love the people. As she finds her way, she meets Steve and his security team, as well as Jamil, a young Afghan man who becomes her translator and assistant.

Jeanette Windle has captured a society in all its honest and difficult detail. So much of the aid and relief that is sent into Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries is never seen by those who need it most. Greed and corruption is rampant. Women have never been seen as equals. I am not familiar with the people and politics of Afghanistan, but the descriptions and attention to detail here was incredible. Here we see not only the cultural differences within Afghanistan itself, but the cultural differences between Christianity and Islam.

As Amy works with women who were former prisoners, she organizes a half-way house where they can go as they try to find places for themselves after their release from prison. Most of these women are not true hardened criminals, but Islamic law has condemned them for different reasons. With Jamil to help her, she begins to make a difference in the lives of women and children. As she and Jamil strengthen their friendship, Amy shares with him her belief in Jesus Christ. Jamil's journey as he struggles to come to terms with his forced belief in Islam and his growing love for Christ is beautiful. I found myself underlining several passages as Amy and Jamil discuss the differences between Christianity and Islam. I am not familiar with Islam and so I don't know how accurate the portrayal of it is here, but the interactions between Amy and Jamil were moving.

The first couple chapters were a bit slow starting for me as I found my way around the subject matter and the foreign words and phrases, which were tossed in here and there. Once I found my footing, however, I couldn't put the book down. I was completely captivated. These were characters I cared about.

My copy is an unedited ARC, so I don't know what the finished product is like. I would have appreciated a glossary because there were many words and phrases I was not familiar with and while I could assume some meanings, definitions would have been appreciated. I also wish Amy and Steve's relationship could have been a bit more resolved, but the ending was perfect.

With compelling characters and an equally compelling narrative, Veiled Freedom is a remarkable book and one I highly recommend.

Thanks to First Wild Card and Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to review this. You can read the first chapter here. You can find out more about Jeanette Windle here. You can get your own copy here.

Read 6/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

7 comments:

remnant reminscences said...

I've had my eye on this for months and have been looking forward to its release. Thanks for the great revview.

Bookfool said...

Shucks, I should have requested this one. I have a terrible time understanding Islam.

Dar said...

Incredible review Holly. I can tell that this book really had an effect on you. I've not heard of it before but I will definitely check it out. I'm very interested in reading about women in Afghanistan. This sounds like a powerful story.

The Social Frog said...

Ohhh, sounds like an awesome book Holly and I think it is a book I must read this summer. Great review :)
www.thesocialfrog.com

alisonwonderland said...

I've put this one on my to-read list. Thanks for the review!

Diane said...

This book intrigued me; so happy to read your glowing review!

naida said...

this does sound interesting, great review!
its wonderful when a book can keep the reader captivated like that.
This reminds me a bit of a memoir I read called In the Land of Invisible Women.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/