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Kabul Beauty School [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Deborah Rodriguez
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24. April 2014
In a little beauty school in the war zone of Kabul, a community of women comes together, all with stories to tell. DEBBIE, the American hairdresser who co-founds the training salon. As the burqas are removed in class, curls are coiffed and make-up is applied, Debbie's students share with her their stories - and their hearts. MINA, forcibly married to a man in repayment of a family debt and threatened with having her child taken away. ROSHANNA, a tearful young bride terrified her in-laws will discover she's not a virgin. And NAHIDA, the prize pupil who bears the scars of her Taliban husband's approval. In the Kabul Beauty School, these women and many others find a safe haven and the seeds of their future independence. From the bestselling author of THE LITTLE COFFEE SHOP OF KABUL, this is an eye-opening, inspiring and enthralling story.

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  • Taschenbuch: 352 Seiten
  • Verlag: Sphere Books (24. April 2014)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0751555762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751555769
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 19,6 x 12,6 x 2,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 50.246 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Kabul Beauty School transcends the feel-good genre largely because of the author's superior storytelling gifts and wicked sense of humor New York Times Bighearted and entertaining, Kabul Beauty School has a conversational style, but Rodriguez never shies away from the misery and oppression she encounters in the poor, rigidly patriarchal country Entertainment Weekly Composed of heartbreak, hope, poignancy and candour LA Times Colourful, suspenseful, funny... This witty and insightful memoir will be perfect for women's reading groups Publishers Weekly A very gutsy, real-life adventure story for women ... This lively memoir is full of darkly funny moments - a customer who had never seen a blow dryer thinks it's a gun and runs screaming from the salon chair - and the humor leavens the horror stories about life in this war-torn land People [Rodriguez's] descriptions are endearingly frank (even about her own social gaffes), and her attempts to help those in need are inspirational and engaging Washington Post


In the tradition of "Reading Lolita in Tehran", a look at the lives of women in Afghanistan through the lens of The Kabul Beauty School. Most Westerners now working in Afghanistan spend their time tucked inside the wall of a military compound or embassy. Deborah Rodriguez is one of the very few who lives life smack in the middle of Kabul. Now, Rodriguez tells the story of the beauty school she founded and the vibrant women who were her students there. When Rodriguez opened the Kabul Beauty School she not only empowered her students with a new sense of autonomy -- in the strictly patriarchal culture, the beauty school proved a small haven -- but also made some of the closest friends of her life. Woven through the book are the stories of her students -- there is the newlywed who must fake her own virginity, the 12 year-old bride who has been sold into marriage to pay her family's debts, the brilliant former medic who has not left her house for thirty years. All of these women have a story to tell, and all of them bring their stories to the Kabul Beauty School, where, along with Rodriguez herself, they learn the art of perms, of friendship, and of freedom. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Typically American & incredibly warm-hearted (4.5*) 3. Januar 2012
"The Kabul Beauty School" is a non-fictional account on Rodriguez's life after she decided to head out to Afghanistan in 2002 to help the Afghan people and finally decided to set up a non-profit beauty school in Kabul, because that's what she was trained at and because she figured that Afghan women might need help setting up own businesses and getting independent.

I was fascinated by Rodriguez's tale about the women at the Kabul Beauty School and I liked the way she told the story: she entwined her personal story with the mostly very sad stories of the Afghan women who attended the beauty school. Rodriguez also vibrantly tells about daily life in Kabul, the dangers, life's little joys when there is hardly anything to rejoice about, the friends she made outside the school and even about finding a new partner. "The Kabul Beauty School" is a story about determination, friendship, love, liberation and cultural blunders committed on Rodriguez behalf because she did not know any better and wanted to do things right or very often do them how they are done at home.

The book left me wondering many times how the very American Rodriguez survived Kabul at all and whether I would have had the guts to put myself in danger the way she did. "The Kabul Beauty School" is also a tale about intercultural skills and/or the lack thereof. Although Rodriguez did obviously improve hers, she may have committed the biggest blunder by telling the story of some of the women she met in her beauty school and thus endangering their lives (therefore the half-a-star deduction).

Apart from that blunder, "The Kabul Beauty School" is a very interesting and moving read, because Rodriguez is a woman from next door, just like the most of us. Her next book The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (originally published as A Cup of Friendship): A Novel is already on my wish list ;-).
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Courtesy of Teens Read Too 28. Februar 2011
Deborah Rodriguez is a beautician from Michigan who went over to Afghanistan after September 11th to help in any way she could. She quickly fell in love with the country and wanted to reestablish the Afghan beauticians who went out of existence when the Taliban took over. Along with help from others, she opened a beauty school where she trained Afghan women to become beauticians who could then open up their own beauty salons.

This amazing true story is heartwarming yet incredibly sad at the same time. The reader learns the personal and tragic story of the many Afghan women that Rodriguez befriends. We learn of their arranged marriages to men twice their age, abusive husbands who will divorce them if the women can't bear a son, and monetary struggles and desperate attempts to find that money. It is also wonderful to read about these same women becoming independent and happy due to their education from the beauty school and their friendship with Ms. Rodriguez.

This book is truly inspiring and educational. The reader learns about many customs and misconceptions about Afghanistan and its people through the real life experiences of Rodriguez. Her desire to help the kind Afghan people can inspire anyone to do the same.

KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is sure to please all readers who are open to learning about a foreign people, their customs, and an American woman who felt the need to dedicate her life to those less fortunate.

Reviewed by: Steph
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Beauty in Conflict: The Kabul Beauty School 20. Juni 2007
Von Anita Anand - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
A work of non-fiction Deborah Rodriguez's book could almost be fictional. Only that it isn't. It's a story about determination, challenge, love and heartache. It is the story of an American woman who catapulted herself from Holland, Michigan to Kabul, Afghanistan.

A maverick by nature, Rodriguez came to Afghanistan in 2002, with an American non-governmental organization (NGO) trained in emergencies. Also gregarious by nature, Rodriguez very early on turned her attention to befriending Afghans who spoke some English. Her checkered background in multitasking and a rich personal life helped her in being sought after what was badly need in Kabul - hairdressing. With this, she developed a deep bond with Afghan women, who were just coming out of the tyranny of living under the Taliban. Their heart rending stories are told poignantly by Rodriguez, throughout the book.

I lived in Kabul for a month in 2004 and for four months in 2006. I also went o Rodriguez's beauty parlour, Oasis, in April 2006, with a friend. It took us forever to find it, as houses have no names or numbers in Kabul (security reasons). I called her four times on her cell phone to get to the right place. I waited while my friend got a haircut, was served tea, and got a chance to observe my surroundings. She had a presence and charisma that was hard to miss. Her energy was infectious. When Rodriguez took a cigarette break, she told us parts of her story, all in the book.

I first read about The Kabul Beauty School in an opinion piece posted in the Kabul Guide e-list I subscribe to, a few months ago. It talked about how some people that worked with Rodriguez in starting the Beauty School felt they did not get the credit they deserved in the book. And, that in the beginning of the book (enjoyable and shocking to me) is a piece about Rodriguez helping an Afghan bride fake her virginity on her wedding night by providing her with a blood stained handkerchief. Shouldn't this be the mother's role, questioned the author of the article? I smiled as I read this.

There were so many roles for women (just as there are for men) in Afghanistan that it could get tiring. But, there are more expectations and restrictions when it comes to women. In most traditional societies in transition to modernity, these roles are shifting. Yet, both Afghans and non Afghans have a hard time with this. What to cling to, what to let go? What to support, what to oppose?

However, Rodriguez had little patience with all this questioning. With a fierce determination she dealt with men and women, ministries, bureaucracies, hoodlums, louts, children and older people. She wore her heart on her sleeve, and was not afraid to show her emotions - be it anger, frustration, love or appreciation. She was certainly not a coward.
She did some pretty unconventional things. Most of all, she married an Afghan, and became his second wife. The first wife, with her seven children, lived in Saudi Arabia. He supported her in many things and said no when he couldn't help her. While Rodriguez did a lot to blend in, she also held on dearly to what she believed in, from her background and upbringing.

Rodriguez weaves the book around her own story and those of the women she comes across in Afghanistan. Choosing to focus on setting up a beauty school, she opted to work with women most of the time. She loved them, got cross with them, and yelled at them. She cried with them, danced with them and got involved in their most intimate stories - from violence to sex.

Raised in a country where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed in the constitution, Rodriguez was often outraged about what she discovered and experienced in Afghanistan. This is understandable. But, slowly she learned and adapted, often at a high cost to herself and others around her. However, that is the nature of life and work as an expatriate in Afghanistan or any other post conflict country. I myself made some mistakes in dealing with the Afghans I worked and interacted with. I too experienced all the emotions Rodriguez did.

Rodriguez ends her book in May 2006, just after riots and curfews in Kabul. I was in Kabul at that time. The women who have studied and graduated from her beauty school have gone their various paths - some to new lives and others back to the old ones (but as changed and economically independent persons, with a skill). Rodriguez's experience in Afghanistan transformed her life and the women around her. Her book is deeply personal and gives a pretty accurate picture of what goes on in today's Afghanistan.

There are whisperings (quietly and openly) that Rodriguez has betrayed and endangered the women of the beauty school - that they could be targeted by conservative elements. Also, about her going back on her promises of getting them out of the country to safe and greener pastures. And, was she going to share the profits of her book with the women whose stories she told?

Above the whispering and questioning, the truth is that the reality of Afghan woman can be changed by themselves -with some help from the Debbie Rodriguez' of the world. Just like development aid and expatriate technical assistance and expertise, it is only a helping hand to the Afghans. And, all this will take time. Decades of oppression from inside and outside Afghanistan, have left a deep impression on Afghan women and men, in separate ways. They suffered collectively and differently, each to their own, in their own way. I too, heard many of these stories. A great need in Afghanistan today is individual and collective healing. Rodriguez realised this and tried to do something about, in the way she knew best.

Rodriguez offered freedom and friendship, within the confines of Afghan society. More than that she could not do, and no outsider can. The book rings true, reads well, and is highly descriptive of a country and people Rodriguez was privileged to be part of. And, that, no one can take away from her. Just like no one can take away from the Afghan women what they got from Rodriquez.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Kabul is really like this...sort of 7. Juni 2008
Von Elizabeth Behring - Veröffentlicht auf
My mother eagerly sent this book to me (yes here in Afghanistan) because she knows how much my heart bleeds for people (read: women) who do not relish in the wonderful things we westerners take for granted.

At times, I applauded Debbie for taking a stand, and never in a million years would I critize her for leaving, because the folks who are the heaviest criticizers have NO concept of bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, and the like. It is truly one of the most horrifying things I have dealt with.

Now...Kabul...I am going to attempt to describe this large city in layman's terms so the average person can understand where I am coming from. I apologize for any hurt feelings or protests, but unless you can meet me downtown Kabul tonight for tea, please take this for what it is: a description of someone who is there.

Yes, some women still wear Burqas (chadris), but while I detest the things more than I can describe, many women still wear them to protect themselves from stares, fondling, cat calls, etc. This is not to say no woman is exempt from these things, but many prefer to wear it, much to their chagrin, because women by themselves are truthfully considered "whores" by many and thus "deserving" of being fondled and hollered at. One of the things I had to get used to as a western woman (obviously, I am rich and a prostitute because I'm not married..."obviously") is the CONSTANT gaping by young men. Truckloads of young men will physically hang out their entire bodies to gawk at a western woman. Shuras won't look at me, though (usually). I have gotten my hand shaken, however, which was considered a huge step up by many in my circle.

For those who wear it, the preferred chadri/burqa is a lovely shade of periwinkle, if only because white is nearly impossible to clean in a country that does not have running water, reliable electricity (only government offices and hospitals are required to maintain electricity; most homes only have the equivalent of a 40-watt light bulb in terms of lights...please note I said MOST), and proper (western) sanitation. You cannot stereoptype Afghans (NOT "Afghanis" like so many people have called them in these reviews) because like any other country, they are not all the same. Kabul is arguably the most "progressed" city, but there are other smaller provinces that boast more progress than Kabul, but I'll concentrate today on the capital. Kabul is a filthy city by western standards. I have lived all over the world (southwest Asia, the middle east, Europe, 12 states, etc.), and my passport is nearly filled with stamps. The nicest parts of Kabul, at least the public areas, are as nasty as the bad parts of big U.S. cities (this is a comparison so people who have never been outside the U.S. can understand...I'm sorry if I offend anybody. It's not my intent.) There is trash, feces, and dead animals along the pocked roads, but the roads are greatly improved since the Taliban was "thrown out." The Taliban is still present, and not a lot of Afghans approve of them in the least, but in some cases, it's like a pesty fly they just swat and and choose largely to ignore (for various reasons, including but not limited to, protecting their families, which is paramount.) In no other country have I ever seen such love for one's family, no matter how far apart the "cousins" are. It's truly heartwarming but can also be a downfall, like the author discusses in some cases.

However, amongst the sea of chadris are also the women who proudly wear high heels with their polished toes and glittering gold bracelets through the dirty streets, but I have never seen an Afghan woman in public without at least a head scarf. There are women in schools, colleges, and those who proudly work, and there is much reformation in parts of the cities. There are men who strongly encourage their daughters to become more educated, but just like any other family, there are some fathers who do not let their daughters do anything beyond their destiny, which is to get married and have sons. Like so many countries that take the Koran literally, the belief males are the dominant gender is held fast.

Every day is Market Day it seems, with thousands of people crowding the narrow streets filled with produce (tangerines are huge here...who knew?), Coca Cola by the liter (doesn't taste the same), nuts, carcasses of dead animals for sale with the head sitting in the middle of the shop to prove what kind of animal it is, children playing, people sitting around listening to the radio (still the most frequent way people get their news), carts pushed by men or donkeys, an occassional horseback rider who narrowly misses the old Opal cars on the side of the road, the useless traffic circle with everybody going whichever way he/she chooses, etc. etc. On Fridays, traditional Afghan music is blared throughout the markets while people noisily chat to one another. Mixed in with the robes and chadris is occassionally a child wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater and Nikes. It is a beautiful place, a dangerous place, and that brings me to my final point before I ramble too much.

I only gave this book 3 stars because, while I understood everything she discussed, I was alarmed about how blase Debbie was about certain cultures...she honestly at times came across as The Ugly American. I wanted to like her, and I loved what she did, but I cannot comprehend why she thought it was okay (spoiler) to put her friend in danger in the market. Nobody is as indignant about being touched by strangers as I, but she did not think about how her actions could have put her friend in danger, or in the very least, embarrassed her. Embarrassment in the U.S. is easily overcome; in this part of the world, you rarely get second chances (Debbie was alloted many because she is a "heathen" American). Why after so long she didn't understand that, or chose to, baffles me.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Yes... and ultimately No 28. Juni 2008
Von Cookie - Veröffentlicht auf
When I started reading this book, I was surprised to learn that the author is from my hometown in Michigan (I moved cross-country two decades ago, but still visit once a year). So, from the get-go I was extra curious about Debbie's story. At first glance, I thought the book was fascinating, and I admired the author's tenacity and heart. I didn't mind her writing style (I thought that was part of the charm), and I gave her ditzy personality a lot of latitude because I figured, at the end of the day, her efforts were having a positive impact. Naively, I assumed that Debbie had the Kabul women's best interests at heart... even though she chose to reveal "secrets" and privileged information about her beauty school students and peers. But, post-book, as I've learned more about the story (with a good bit of googling), my curiosity and fascination with the book has been replaced by sadness and disappointment. A recent (June 2008) article in the Chicago Tribune tells how the story has unfolded, or unraveled, since the book's been published... and it ain't pretty. Since she's a hometown girl, I still want to believe that Debbie's intentions have always been above board... but, either way, it's had a devastating impact on the women left behind in Kabul. Debbie's gotten some degree of glory, but her Kabul "sisters" are paying the price, and having to do it all by themselves. Very, very sad.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Has Life for Afghani Women Improved Because of Rodriguez? 27. September 2007
Von Michelaneous by Michele - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's easy to read and certainly provides an interesting and informative portrayal of what life is like for the women of Afghanistan. Unfortunatley, for me it dragged on in the end, and I started counting pages wondering when it would be over. There is one heartbreaking and shocking story after the next, and too many "characters" to wrap one's mind around. This mélange of stories primarily boils down to this: Terrorizing Men and Terrorized Women. I don't believe life for Afghani women has improved because of the Kabul Beauty School, and from what I understand, because of their portrayal in this book, some of the women are in more danger now that the book is out and Rodriguez has fled.

In the end, reading Kabul Beauty School did not elicit the feelings I thought it might, which was to have met an extraordinary, selfless woman who achieved a major accomplishment. Throughout the reading, I didn't understand or appreciate the author's motivation and, as a result, found it difficult to champion her cause. It's excellent memoir or journal material, but that's where the excellence ends. Does it entertain a broad audience? Absolutely not. In addition, there's a certain lack of credibility from the merely average writing skills of the author. In the retelling of this tale, Deborah Rodriguez often comes across as victim of circumstance. She makes a series of foolish choices particularly when it comes to marriage, acts rashly, and often irreverently, probably drinks too much and smokes. (This may be harsh, but these traits, to me, have nothing to do with "beauty.") For example, it doesn't make her the least bit likeable when we learn she verbally assaults a man at an outdoor market when he follows her around and grabs her backside. Embarrassing and endangering her closest friend (and translator) in the process, the friend tells her outright that she will "never go to the market with her again." Rodriguez brings her strong, independent and liberated American woman traits with her, wears them on her sleeve, and it does not earn her respect from the people around her, or from this reader. It makes her nickname "Crazy Debbie" perfectly understandable. Also, she lets her friends arrange a marriage for her, (and granted the presence of an Afghani husband, "Sam," does help her cause in one dangerous and surprising circumstance after another), but this man already has a wife, and we soon learn, a baby on the way. It's all very bizarre.

It feels as though Rodriguez returned to Afghanistan (after her first genuine venture there to provide aid after the ousting of the Taliban) in search of an extraordinary life rather than because she wanted to be the savior of Afghani women. I'm not saying this is true (I don't know this woman), but if the purpose of this book was to tell the world who she is and why she went to Afghanistan at great personal expense to become the director of a beauty school with the hope of making life better for the women there, she has been successful. The book, published by a major house, and the movie deal also deem her "successful." As for the school and the cause? A failure. She is not, like the book jacket indicates, living in Afghanistan and still running the school. According to an article on NPR, "the subjects of her book say Rodriguez and her newfound fame have put their lives in danger. They say they've seen none of the money or help to get them out of Afghanistan that Rodriguez promised them in exchange for having their stories appear in the book." Rodriguez counters by saying the women misunderstood what she promised them.

In spite of this rather negative review, I do think Kabul Beauty School is an EXCELLENT CHOICE for book clubs as it will no doubt, provoke a very interesting and thoughtful discussion about the lives of women living in Afghanistan, and whether or not the outside world should or shouldn't have something to say or do about this culture and the emancipation of women there. I also suggest Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time.

Michele Cozzens is the author of Irish Twins
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Misguided, Selfish American Ruins Afghan Lives 15. Januar 2008
Von Gregory Bravo - Veröffentlicht auf
First, the good:

The book is written in an informal, yet extremely engaging, style. It is well put-together. After I started reading it, I just wanted to keep reading until I finished. (I guess you could call that a "page-turner".)

Now, the bad:

The book starts out with great promise. The narrator is a hairdresser from Michigan who is having a difficult time extricating herself from an abusive marriage. (It is not clear to me why she doesn't just leave the guy, but that's OK. It seems to be a combination of abused wife reasons: money, psychological control. Common enough.) Then, for some reason that is never made clear, she gets the idea to use her beauty skills to travel to Afghanistan and help women there learn cosmetology. She has no money to do this, but ends up convincing a famous beauty supply company to fund her project.

She then makes the first of many selfish, and questionable, decisions revolving around responsability: She decides to move to Afghanistan. That would be fine if she was on her own--- but she isn't. She is a mother with small children. Moving to Afghanistan entails leaving her dependent children in the US without her. (It is never made clear who exactly is taking care of her children while she spends months at a time in Afghanistan. It is heartbreaking when later in the book one of her sons decides to move to Afghanistan just to be closer to her; she allows this, putting him into extreme danger. He then transfers to go to school in Cyprus just so he can be on the same continent; not long after he makes this life-altering decision, his mother abandons Afghanistan and moves back to the US. This is simply the first life of many she has irrevocably changed for the worse.)

This theme of abandonment of responsability caused by questionable, headstrong decisions is one that plays out with ever-increasing devastation as the book continues.

After arriving in Afghanistan, the author succeeds in starting the beauty school. There are many colorful anecdotes about life in Afghanistan, and the many colorful and interesting characters she meets. They are especially interesting since they are told from the perspective of an American woman. Unfortunately (as I should have gathered early in the book if I had been paying attention) this perspective is a subtle one of cultural superiority. (As an example, she lives in Afghanistan for over a year, and even by the end of the book, she has never bothered to learn any form of the local language. After YEARS there, she still gets by by speaking English, using friends as translators, and hand-gestures.)

She becomes "friends" with Afghan women who she trains in her beauty school. At first everything goes well--- the women love being independent and earning their own money--- but she soon comes up against
cultural norms that threaten the school. This is not unexpected, of course. However, she deals with most of these with little cultural perspective, and which put the Afghan women under her tutelage in personal danger time and again.

Somewhere along the way, she meets an Afghan man at a dinner with friends; without either of them speaking the other's language, she agrees to marry him and become his second wife only a few WEEKS after they meet. She knows nothing about this man, yet agrees to marry him mere weeks after they meet! (Another questionable, headstrong decision, which will end badly.)

Near the end of the book, she travels one last time to Afghanistan. A lot of troubles have ensued, the beauty shop is basically closed, a lot of the women who she has dragged into her little experiment are now in danger for their lives. She decides to leave Afghanistan almost immediately, saying only that she felt danger and had to get away. She doesn't explain this at all in the book. She abandons the beauty school, the Afghan women who were her "friends", and her new Afghan husband as well-- leaving him and them without so much as a goodbye or explanation for her abandonment. It is never explained why she does this in the book, either-- but seems par for the course given her previous actions.

Even worse is what happens when she returns to the US. She basically stops calling and helping her Afghan friends. The women she brought into the beauty school rightly feel abandoned. Some of them are now political refugees in other countries because they are in danger for their lives in Afghanistan. (Even if she can't help them financially, she still hasn't even bothered CALLING them in over a year. In a recent interview in the Chicago Tribune, she questions: "When is enough enough?" Apparently after you write a bestseller and ink a movie deal after destroying dozens of lives and livelihoods.)

By the end of the book, I was left with a feeling of disquiet and unease. I really wanted to like the author (she comes across as very dynamic and engaging)-- let's be honest, it takes a certain dynamic personality to pull something like this off. Personality-wise, I ALMOST liked her. But I finally had to conclude that-- whether accidentally or purposefully--- she is also the type of person with no self-awareness, a high degree of selfishness (which is even more dangerous because she doesn't see it!), and headstrong tendencies and disregard for others that leave devastation in her wake no matter where she goes. A walking tornado.

I am giving the book three stars because it works AS A BOOK: It really kept me engaged and made me want to read it to the end.

However, it sort of left me feeling like I might feel after eating a gallon of ice cream at one sitting: Kind of uncomfortable, nauseous and, in the end, sick at heart.
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