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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe | [Gayle Tzemach Lemmon]

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war - a rare achievement for any Afghan woman - Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.
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Publisher's Summary

The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war - a rare achievement for any Afghan woman - Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. Former ABC Newsreporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting Kamila's story, and the result is an unusually intimate and unsanitized look at the daily lives of women in Afghanistan. These women are not victims; they are the glue that holds families together; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation.

Afghanistan's future remains uncertain as debates over withdrawal timelines dominate the news. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana moves beyond the headlines to transport you to an Afghanistan you have never seen before. This is a story of war, but it is also a story of sisterhood and resilience in the face of despair. Kamila Sidiqi's journey will inspire you, but it will also change the way you think about one of the most important political and humanitarian issues of our time.

©2011 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

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3.9 (228 )
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  •  
    Susan South Hero, VT, United States 09-20-12
    Susan South Hero, VT, United States 09-20-12
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    "Excellent Listen"

    For someone whose knowledge of the Taliban in Afghanistan mostly came from the evening news and Newsweek, this is a personal account of extraordinary women quietly living within a system and taking care of themselves and their families through a collective effort and the determination of a strong and courageous woman. The story is not heavy with political or governmental details, rather it is from the perspective of a family and its neighbors looking after one another while living under Taliban rule. Zimmerman's reading was tempered and consistent; she let the story speak for itself.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginger 03-09-12
    Ginger 03-09-12
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    "nice story-writing style and performance lacking"

    The performance was better suited to a mystery or thriller. It got tiring after the first few chapters. The writing style was more like a long magazine article and really bogged down as the book progressed. Occasionally terms would be used that were glaring exceptions to dialog. e.g. women were warned not to goof-off? so out of place....

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol H. 05-15-12
    Carol H. 05-15-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting & Enjoyable"

    This book gives great insight into how woman lived in Afghanistan during the Taliban years. They are loving, wonderful, & amazing. I think the reader did a great job and I enjoyed this book a lot.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie 09-01-12
    Bonnie 09-01-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Highly recommend - good story and educational"

    Read this book if you want to understand Afghanistan, its history, the people and the Taliban. I had no idea about any of this except that the Taliban are extremist. I had no idea how the Taliban came to be so fundamental until this book. This was explained in the first few chapters and sets the stage for this true story of Kamela Sediqi who became the dressmaker of Khair Khana.

    When the Taliban first came to Kabul, Kamela had just finished at the University and had hoped to get a job teaching. Her hopes were quickly dashed when the Taliban decreed that women were to stay at home, obtain no jobs, not leave the house without being fully covered and having a male chaperone, and other rules which seemed to change daily. They also roamed the streets like common thugs looking for the slightest reason to beat women, even the elderly. Women went from a world of hope to one of despair.

    This is the very powerful biography of a young woman who changed what she could by starting her own secret business in her home and in so doing provided an income and hope for her family and the families of many others.

    The only thing that I would have changed were the voices of the various characters. The reader gave them no individuality. All voices, both men and women, sounded alike. It was sometimes difficult to tell the women apart because of this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    laurie SARASOTA, FL, United States 10-03-11
    laurie SARASOTA, FL, United States 10-03-11 Member Since 2011

    I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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    "Entrepreneurial Enterprise under Taliban Rule"

    Kamila had just completed her teaching certification when the Taliban came to power in Kabul, and suddenly she was not allowed to work or even be on the street without a male escort. In this wonderful account, you will learn how this enterprising young woman was able to support her family by learning to sew and then becoming a dressmaker, going on to teach other young women in her neighborhood the skill so they could support their own families. The book is well written and exciting, and the narrator has a pleasant voice and does a fine job. You'll gain real insight into what living under Taliban rule is like for females, whose world crashes down around them and how they can transcend the restrictions through intelligence, perseverance, creativity, and necessity.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 12-02-12
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Strong Women, Strong Story"

    I enjoyed learning about the plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. I never knew much about Afghanis before, and this book provided a human side to their struggle. The look into their culture was very enlightening, and given what the females had to endure and the risks they took, the courage of these women were amazing to me. It made me realize how valuable some of the everday things are that I take for granted - like being able to go out in public alone and in whatever I choose to wear, go wherever I want to, talk to whoever I want to, etc. I cannot imagine being plucked out of a university program just because the government decides that women do not deserve to be educated. I was also appalled to read about the women having to be treated at female-only hospitals; in addition to not having proper medication and equipment, the female doctors could not even consult with their male colleagues. I was also very surprised to hear how progressive and educated this country was before the Taliban - I never realized that before. Not only was the story a good one, but it was also educational for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-09-12
    03-09-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Women will always find a way.........."
    If you could sum up The Dressmaker of Khair Khana in three words, what would they be?

    courageous, bold and innovative


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana?

    The part where they are on a bus without a male attendant. I was impressed with the way Camil talked her way out of her predicament.


    What does Sarah Zimmerman bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    With this book and others, the narrator brings mood, emotion and brings the characters to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was impressed with the outcome - I fully expected something to go very wrong. I had a hard time trying to put myself in the situations the women were in. I was angry with the Taliban and hoped they would be taken over.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 05-06-11
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 05-06-11 Member Since 2007

    Jonnie

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    "Very nice story"

    This is a very nice story. The ladies were inspiring and it was a good listen.
    The narrator did a very good job also.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alejandra Viaduc 01-20-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Quick read, well written."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    If they were interested in all of the poverty/struggles of women in Afghanistan, I would. This book is based around a very specific topic.
    But, it's well written and concise. The author doesn't waste our time with useless details.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I was proud of Kamila and her sisters.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Kind of. The narration had some emotion, but not enough. And the voices didn't really change. That's tough, since there are SO many characters in this book. I figured out who was speaking by context, usually.


    Do you think The Dressmaker of Khair Khana needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Nope. As I said before, it was concise and to the point. She covered everything she needed to to attach us to the characters, help us feel their struggles, and avoid kicking the dead horse- which is often the problem with stories of struggle.


    Any additional comments?

    No, thanks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois 08-25-13
    Lois 08-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A Remarkable Woman"

    An amazing account of triumph over adversity. Kamila Sidiqi realises that in a household of women - the men having left for their own safety - she had to do something to support her sisters. Living in Khair Khana where the Taliban were in control, and life for women was severely restricted, she learnt to sew, and established a thriving dressmaking business. Her youngest brother was the only male in the establishment, and she relied on him to escort her whenever she ventured outdoors to market her wares, or purchase fresh material.Her enterprise and great courage are amazing, as she eventually supplied work for many of her neighbours, enabling them to earn sufficient to live on There is a lot more to be written about this brave lady - I do hope a sequel is considered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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