“In Afghanistan, not much is for certain other than an open sky and eventual death. In between the two is family.” — from The Underground Girls of Kabul
The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg first landed on my reading radar when I saw an interview with the author on The Daily Show. The topic — girls being brought up as boys to circumvent Afghanistan’s rigid gender code — was a perfect match for our Human Geography independent reading list. Nordberg’s exceptional book explores the many reasons for the phenomenon of the bacha posh (“dressed up like a boy”), including the almost sacred importance of sons in Afghan culture, the shame felt by families with only daughters, and the ability of these unique children to cross boundaries within a deeply segregated society. Of course, everything must change for these bacha posh when they reach puberty and then marriageable age. Or is there a way to resist and maintain a male identity (and the freedom that goes with it) for those who wish to? The Underground Girls of Kabul is a mesmerizing cultural history, with unforgettable characters. You will be riveted by their stories and the interwoven strands of history, religion, conflict, and tradition.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this book in exchange for an honest review!