The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez – 5 stars
I picked up this book on the recommendation of my English teacher (who warned me, very candidly, that she liked to read ‘trash’). My first impressions correlated with this idea; I felt like Deborah Rodriguez was writing about the situation in Afghanistan with all the solemnity of a Hilary Duff film.
I persevered however, and found myself rooting for the characters and completely immersing myself into their lives. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they found the speed of developments erratic and unsatisfactory, but personally, nothing like that bothered me. The author explicitly says ‘People get close fast in Kabul’ (probably a horrible misquote, but that sort of idea), and I found myself believing the entire story whole-heartedly.
A lot of people compare this to the Kite Runner – in fact, the review featured on the cover of my copy reads: ‘As though Maeve Binchy wrote the Kite Runner’. I don’t feel that two books set in the same country necessarily demand comparison. In defence of Rodriguez’s book, I felt that the Western characters with a foreigner’s outlook weren’t a misrepresentation of the country, but a bridge to make the whole story accessible to Western readers. The Afghani characters created a balance, allowing enough insight to the true Islamic culture to make this book the exotic experience it is.
As the plot developed, I felt that the book was impossible to put down – not because of any particular excellence in articulation, but because of the beautifully crafted stories and characters that intertwined.
After my initial impression of “Like Chocolat, minus the pretty writing and with added Taliban,” I began to see the book as not unlike the character Candace – superficially a little tacky but with a touching depth that radiates given a little time.
If you’ve read this too I’d love to know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.