Kabul Beauty School

Kabul Beauty School

An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

Book - 2007
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Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian aid group. Surrounded by people whose skills--as doctors, nurses, and therapists--seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus the idea for the Kabul Beauty School was born. Within that small haven, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts, ultimately giving her the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2007.
ISBN: 9781400065592
Characteristics: 275 p. ;,22 cm.


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Nov 19, 2017

I met Debbie while living in Mazatlan, Mexico in 2013. She owned and operated a hair salon/spa right around the corner from my hotel in old Mazatlan. When she told me about her book I couldn't wait to get it and read it. I really enjoyed this book. At the time she was in discussions re: a movie based on this book. She's an extremely resourceful woman and naturally talented in so many ways. She cuts hair beautifully, paints, writes - you name it, she can probably do it. Incredible lady. This book is definitely worth a read as well as her other book of fiction The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul also set in Afghanistan. Five stars Debbie.


Absolutely disgusted with the amount of nasty remarks slung at this author for all her heroic attempts at giving these abused, invisible and down trodden women some glimmer of hope.

Before you cast stones at her 'poor' writing, just know that 99.9% of her critics would not even contemplate doing what she did and putting up with stuff that we here in the States, parts of Europe and Canada never ever have to deal with.

Disgusted with BPL and GR members for being so rotten to someone who tried so hard to make a difference.

Dec 02, 2013

This memoir provided insight into Kabul and an American's attempt to open a beauty school for Afghan women. I enjoyed the story, but wonder if the author has painted an unrealistic picture of her efforts and results. Debbie Rodriguez may have overstated the results of the school and endangered the women identified in this memoir. I hope she has not endangered any of the women trained in the school or their families. I found it interesting that she was critical of the Afghan culture but was willing to become wife #2 of Sam, an Afghan warlord.

Dec 13, 2012

Although I admire her enthusiasm, audacity, courage, but she is writing about tragic and unjust things, without any serious feeling about. This is ridiculous: she is "So courage", that can go against terrorist with a cigarette! She should read before write this book, other books, written by the people of Afghanistan, before she got her sleds on the stranger's door. She got married because of a sheer interest to a mujahedeen who fought the Russians during the so called Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan, but she has no idea, that precisely during the time that the Russians were there - the girls could go to school, read books, not to cover their faces, in general, live a normal life, much like the Western people. And because of that - there were many doctors, teachers and other professionals among women. I have read some reactions of Afghan women about who is this book, in Afghanistan this book you cannot get, but the rumors are getting there too, and all of those women are calling Deborah a traitor and that she used them for her own benefit. They are living in constant danger, because of the secrets they shared with her and she used them in the book, and one of the women had to leave Afghanistan with her husband, because of constant threat of death. Deborah is saying in this book that she adores her husband. But, there are rumors, which she had to fly from Afghanistan because her afghan husband was thinking to kidnap her son. This school no longer exists. It was pure waste of resources. Instead of traveling USA-Afghanistan, Afghanistan-USA, all the time, Debora Rodriguez could use this money for charity, if is that she was trying to do. Now – she is kind of a famous speaker about sad life of woman in Afghanistan! Give me a break! And how it is possible that she leaves her two sons with her mother, while she, so saying, lives her life as she pleases in Afghanistan?

May 17, 2012

Confess I did not like the writer. She seemed to be a bit of a "typical" American, rushing in where angels fear to tread, determined to do things her way and damn the customs and culture of the country in which she was a guest. Interesting read otherwise, but its veracity is in question: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/fashion/29kabul.html?_r=1

Jan 19, 2011

This is an unusual non-fictional account of a hair stylist who leaves her American lifestyle for Kabul Afghanistan. Incredibly, she builds a beauty business there, training and hiring local women to help them upgrade their lifestyles. Marrying an Afghan man, and adopting their way of life, she describes beautifully the Afghani women she meets. One of the things she says is that no Afghan women will allow another woman, a sister, to cry alone, she will unburden the grief by sharing it.

Jul 07, 2008

Debbie Rodriguez went to Afghanistan in 2001 originally as part of a humanitarian group. In Kabul she soon became sought after for her hairdressing background, which gave her the idea of opening a beauty school for local women whose new skills would enable them to earn additional income for their families. The struggle to find funding for the school, in addition to all of the cultural and political hoops to jump through in Afghanistan itself make for a fascinating story. At the end I found myself wanting to know more about what happened afterward, about Debbie's Afghan husband, their life there, etc.

That said, I fervently regret reading a more recent news article before writing my review as it has dampened my enthusiasm for the book somewhat. As of June 2007, Debbie has apparently left Afghanistan and her husband for good, and many of her former students fear for their lives since the book's publication. It was a great story, but I now wonder if some of the book's resolutions weren't quite as rosy as suggested.

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