The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Sister Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon was a fast read for me. I have been wanting to read this one, but have been holding out on purchasing books for a while. However, I did break down and have this one sent to my Kindle, which means I have read another book for my Kindle challenge.
Although this story is true, it reads like a novel. Lemmon visited Afghanistan and talked with women there, constructing this story around these interviews and her research.
Kamila's story begins in the mid 1990s. The Taliban has imposed new restrictions on women. They cannot be outside their home unless accompanied by a man and they must be covered from head to toe, wearing a chadri that allows them only a small slit for their eyes so they can see. This changes life for Kamila and her family. Her father and mother leave their home, finding a place they feel is safer. Kamila who is an adult remains to help care for her siblings. As time passes, they become tired of the restrictions and fearful of the consequences of not following the Taliban's orders. Although Kamila had never known how to sew, she decides to learn and begins a sewing business out of her home. That decision changes things for the Sidiqi family forever. Quickly the small sewing operation grows and soon Kamila's small business employs other women and helps support several families. Kamila does not stop with only her sewing business. She finds other ways to help the women of Afghanistan, establishing new businesses and opportunities for her people.
The Dressmaker of Khar Khana is hopeful, a story of one woman who is able to make a difference in her country. At this point I have read several books about Afghanistan, and while each one shares the struggles of women there, I am always encouraged that there are some women who are finding a way to overcome the many obstacles thrown at them. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana reminds me of The Beauty School of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez or Rodriguez's novel, A Cup of Friendship. This is a great addition to the growing collection of books featuring Afghan women.