My Little Pocketbooks: Review: A Cup of Friendship   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: A Cup of Friendship

 
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A Cup of Friendship
Author: Deborah Rodriguez
Genre: Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Audiobook:  9 hours and 30 minutes
Narrator: Mozhan Marno

Source: From e-Library
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Description

From the author of the “bighearted . . . inspiring” (Vogue) memoir Kabul Beauty School comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of Afghanistan, and the men and women who meet there—thrown together by circumstance, bonded by secrets, and united in an extraordinary friendship.
After hard luck and some bad choices, Sunny has finally found a place to call home—it just happens to be in the middle of a war zone. The thirty-eight-year-old American’s pride and joy is the Kabul Coffee House, where she brings hospitality to the expatriates, misfits, missionaries, and mercenaries who stroll through its doors. She’s especially grateful that the busy days allow her to forget Tommy, the love of her life, who left her in pursuit of money and adventure.
Working alongside Sunny is the maternal Halajan, who vividly recalls the days before the Taliban and now must hide a modern romance from her ultratraditional son—who, unbeknownst to her, is facing his own religious doubts. Into the café come Isabel, a British journalist on the trail of a risky story; Jack, who left his family back home in Michigan to earn “danger pay” as a consultant; and Candace, a wealthy and well-connected American whose desire to help threatens to cloud her judgment.
When Yazmina, a young Afghan from a remote village, is kidnapped and left on a city street pregnant and alone, Sunny welcomes her into the café and gives her a home—but Yazmina hides a secret that could put all their lives in jeopardy. As this group of men and women discover that there’s more to one another than meets the eye, they’ll form an unlikely friendship that will change not only their own lives but the lives of an entire country.
Brimming with Deborah Rodriguez’s remarkable gift for depicting the nuances of life in Kabul, and filled with vibrant characters that readers will truly care about, A Cup of Friendship is the best kind of fiction—full of heart yet smart and thought-provoking.

Review

I completely stumbled upon this book.  I was ready to start a new audiobook, browsed the 11 audiobooks I have downloaded and ready to go, then decided to not listen to any of them.  I wanted something else.  I browsed the  e-library and ran across this one.  It was the cover that mainly attracted me.  
The story is mainly centered around Sunny, an American expat living in Kabul and running a small cafe.  Everything kind of revolves around her and the cafe but the story is bigger than that.  The readers get a glimpse of life under the burka, the Taliban, and what life is like in a war zone.  
I have a hard time telling you why I like this book.  
First, I love reading books that give the reader insight into the lives of other cultures.  The more accurate the setting and the time period the better I like it.  Deborah Rodriguez did just that.  She made the setting Kabul, Afghanistan so real I felt the tension of danger around the next corner.  She made the rubble and the landscape very real.  There was nothing written that was not relevant to the setting.
Second, I seem to be drawn to books about women.  This book delves into the devastated lives of Afghani women living in Kabul today.  The male dominated regime taking away all their rights, their voice and even their faces is at the center for this story along with how it affects the expat women living there.  But I have to say that there was something missing.  I can't put my finger on it.  Other reviews have said the character development is lacking but I am not sure if that's it.  There is only so much a writer can tell you about a character when there are so many characters in the book.  The author gives the reader a bit of information about a few of the expats who come into the cafe and their relationship to Sunny.  Those characters are completely background to me and I don't need to know why they are in Kabul.  
I love how things began to evolve and develop in this book.  In the beginning of the book you can tell what happens because there are few twist and turns.  The book ended in a way that was...nice...sweet and I knew it.  I think the predictability of the ending and most of the story is why I didn't give it 5 stars.  
I also have one small bone to pick with this book.  In Sunny's cafe she serves the All-American breakfast (eggs, pancakes and bacon)  BACON!!  In a Muslim country.  Say what?!  How does that happen?  Anyways...
The narrator Mozhan Marno completely, 100%, single handily knocked this book out the park.  I think the 4 stars are all hers.  All of them!!  She is an Iran-American actresses and her accent was (of course) flawless.  She created a perfect voice for all the characters; Sunny with her bland Southern accent to all the men with their hard Arabic to the soft spoken Yazmina and the youthful Layla.  She did them all and with such clarity.  WOW!  BRAVO!!!
I will now add her to my must listen to list. 
Image from www.rtve.com

Reviews by Other Bloggers

Recommendations

I recommend this book to adult readers due to the violent acts to women and population.

Challenges

This book is number 1 in my Audiobook Reading Challenge
This book is number 1 in my New To Me Author Reading Challenge
This book is number 1 in my Good Reads Reading Challenge  
This book is letter C in my Alphabet Reading Challenge 

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