I almost don't know where to start. In the Land of Blue Burqas is a story that's both simple and complex, light and heavy. One thing I know: I couldn't put it down.
Author Kate McCord (that's not her real name; it's a protective pseudonym) has written a memoir of sorts of her five years living in Afghanistan. She's an American who left a career to start a non-governmental organization to help Afghan women. The book contains story after story of everyday conversations she had with Afghan people. Conversations about family and faith, religious practices, hostility, responding to insult and why she would leave "the promised land" of America to live and work side by side with Afghans.
The insights McCord draws from her time in Afghanistan are eye-opening and heart-changing. She brings life and emotion and humanity to a people group most of us will never encounter. I was moved by her stories and the stories of her friends and co-workers, of their struggles to live faithfully in the context of their government and religion amidst a war-torn country.
If nothing else, reading this book serves as a reminder that people everywhere struggle with the same issues: family and faith, work and worth, fear and freedom, among others. McCord's honesty about her own fears, about the way her life had to change to live in Afghanistan, about the pressure to conform to Islam while she lived there, are startling and refreshing. This is a woman I'd love to have coffee with. She is a storyteller who, it would seem, has risked a great deal to tell her stories.
In the Land of Blue Burqas might not answer all your questions. In fact, it might raise more questions. But it's certain to challenge stereotypes and preconceived notions. And McCord doesn't just write to tell you about her experience but to share the lessons she learned about her own faith in the process. In Afghanistan, where life is much like it was when Jesus walked the earth, McCord's understanding of biblical illustrations and parables expanded and came to life.
Not an easy read, but a valuable one.