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The Lovers: Romeo and Juliet in Afghanistan
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The Lovers: Romeo and Juliet in Afghanistan

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  879 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Alternate cover edition here

A riveting, real-life equivalent of The Kite Runner—an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Zakia and Ali were from different tribes, but they grew up on neighboring farms in the hinterlands of
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Ecco (first published June 9th 2015)
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Peggy I read the book and enjoyed it but it left me hanging wondering what happened next ? Its there going to be another book to lets us know how their life…moreI read the book and enjoyed it but it left me hanging wondering what happened next ? Its there going to be another book to lets us know how their life is now.

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Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
There just are no words for this experience as researched and reported. Photos are as excellent and as instructive as the copy.

It's just too tragic and portents such dire outcomes of the future for any cultural association, that I can type no more.

Sincerely, I hope this couple can stay alive long enough to raise their daughter. And that all the people on the way who aided them! That they can remain alive in health themselves.
Anne-Marie O'Connor
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
I began this book early in the evening, and couldn't put it down until well after midnight, until my kindle battery finally died. The story of this romance reads like a thriller, rendered with a wealth of detail that makes it compelling, vivid and immediate. This is the story of a forbidden love match in a society where marriages are carefully arranged by families. It reveals a world in which women are the property of fathers, husbands, and brothers, who answer the women's desire of individual a ...more
Mixed feelings. The book operates on a couple of levels; one, the story of Zakia and Ali, the "star-crossed" lovers of the title; the other, as a glimpse into life in Afghanistan, a place where Western ideas about women and their rights might or might not--mostly not--be welcome. Zakia and Ali choose each other, triggering attempts from Zakia's family to kill her for their--yes, I have to put this in quotes--"honor." Ali's family, particularly his father, support the young couple, as do a cast o ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
I think Zakia and Ali's story is a story worth telling, especially because it speaks to dangerous cultural norms in Afghanistan. It also contributes to a wider narrative about ensuring the rights of women around the world. However, I'm not sure that Rod Nordland did their story justice. To me, it seems like he is self-congratulating himself on considering ethical implications and then helping them anyway. Further, he continuously uses the word "backwards" when discussing Afghans, which I find to ...more
Ken Dowell
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Lovers is a love story. Of course it is. But it’s also a news story. A news story about women’s rights. A news story about what U.S. intervention has and hasn’t done in Afghanistan. And a news story about some of the most backward social customs on earth.

The author, Rod Nordland, is a journalist who at one time was the New York Times Kabul bureau chief. He was on the hunt for a story about an honor killing. Instead he found the story of an Afghani Romeo and Juliet. Zakia and Ali are illitera
Kelsey Hanson
Actual Rating: 3.5

This book is both incredibly inspiring and completely frustrating. On the one hand, it shows the power of love and how two young people are willing to risk everything just to be together. Plus, it shows how willing people around the world are to help them. On the other hand, it also showcases just how difficult it can be to enact social change in third world countries. The challenge of breaking through social mores and traditions that had been in place for years is extremely di
Janice Forman
Although this book tells the triumphant story of how Zakia and Ali defied their families and escaped an honour killing, I found the book depressing. The Afghanistan culture is so radically different than ours and so steeped in the importance of honour, I have difficulty in foreseeing any changes, particularly for women. I often question why we believe our culture is better than another countries and I feel we need to sometimes step back and respect the diversity of cultures. However, I am left w ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true horror story of what it is like to be a woman in Afghanistan. And whatever little progress has been made is sure to end as soon as Western soldiers leave the country.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Long and repetitive in many aspects, but interesting to learn about honor killing and the horrors of falling in love in Afghanistan. The book went on forever and felt like I was reading the same plot over and over as the two main characters hide, move, hide, move, ask for money, hide, ask for money, hide, etc.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-nonfiction
Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl marry and live happily ever after. Right? Wrong! This feel-good, stereotypical, romantic story may play out time and again in many parts of the world—but not in Afghanistan. Rod Nordland’s remarkable true story is about the forces of culture, religion, and deep-rooted corruption in a male-dominated country. Ultimately, it is also a story of the steadfast, spirited, and simple power of love between two people and their indomitable determi ...more
Betsy D.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly eye-opening, and did not make for a light read (but it was riveting!). I need to go with something a little happier next, I think! Rod Nordland does an amazing job of making the book read like a novel, although it's a true story. Most importantly, though, I felt that for once I have a passable grasp on the real issues in Afghanistan. It was hard to read, but important to note that the jihad that we hear of is actually a "jihad against women." Most of the issues that the ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book about honor killing, patriarchal dominance, police and mullah corruption, and humanitarian aid through changing laws and the establishment of safe houses for women and girls subjected to rape, abuse, child brides, and attempted murders by their family.
The reporting and true story of two Afghanistan youths, Zakia and Muhammad Ali, both from different ethnicities and religions being hunted by Zakia's father and brothers to save "honor" of the family was horrific a
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In America and the West, we take a lot of our freedoms for granted: free speech, freedom of religious belief, rights to due process under the law, etc. But love? The freedom to choose who we fall in love with and not worry about our families approval? Sadly, that is the case of women in Afghanistan and this book, by detailing the tribulations of two young Afghans who fell in love, sheds a light on how little things have improved for women in Afghanistan after 15 years of spilt blood and treasure ...more
Sep 18, 2016 added it
come find me in 3d for thoughts
Alan Marchant
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, horror
Ignore the subtitle: parallels with Romeo and Juliet end with the fact that the protagonists, Ali and Zakia, are irrational young lovers. The journalist author injects himself excessively into both the lovers' circumstances and the telling of their story. On the other hand, this perspective increases the importance of the book as Nordland salts it with a cross-section of recent cases that illustrate the callousness and ubiquity of honor killing and misogyny throughout Afghanistan.

Nordland sugges
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Even though you can guess how this story goes, it is told in much more detail than most other examples from books and news stories. Zakia and Ali grew up as neighbors in a remote village in Afghanistan. They fell in love but were from different sects and so were forbidden. After they ran away, Zakia’s family pursued her to kill her to satisfy their tarnished honor. They twisted western and Islamic laws and created false documents to say that Zakia was already married. They lied to the courts and ...more
Sandi Miller
Zakia was expected to marry someone her father chose for her. Afghani women are considered to be property that can be traded, sold, raped or killed at the whim of the men in their families. Falling in love with someone not approved by a father can be a terrifying experience. Zakia and her neighbor Ali loved each other enough to run away and live in hiding for years, with her family giving up their farm in order to hunt for them and kill her.

Author Rod Norland is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter
Astha Moudgil
"The lovers" by 'Rod Nordland' is story of two lovers from rival communities, Zakia (Sunni) of Tajik ethnicity and Mohammad Ali (Shia) a Hazara, who against all odds (families unacceptance, social norms, culture, traditions, civil and Islamic laws) succeeded to escape their fate..
With a beautiful cover having a real photograph of Zakia and Mohammad Ali on the run, this book is equipped with a thorough map of the couple's movement, proper references and bibliography. The way 'Rod Nordland' has na
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a visit to an "upside-down" world- a culture totally foreign to me. A world where, if a woman is raped, she should be killed to protect her family's honor. A world where, if a child is raped, she is forced to marry her rapist so it won't be considered adultery. A world where, if an unrelated couple is alone together, this means they must be committing adultery.
This book tells the story of Ali and Zakia- they choose to love and marry. Both families object- this isn't how it's done, a
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wanted to love it but i feel like it could've been written in a much more engaging way or edited better. there were a few chapters following the afterword that were super interesting and i wish had been incorporated into the beginning of the book to give the story a little more context upfront. (if you are going to read it, i'd read these chapters first). i desperately wish there was more that could be done to help women in Afghanistan and men who grow up with false conceptions of honor and pr ...more
Emerson Grossmith
Not particularly crazy about this book--keep getting confused with all the names. I do like that the author ties in this story with other true ones from Afghanistan. A very screwed up country and it hasn't helped that Pakistan is its corrupt neighbour. Between Kabul and Pakistan, they have managed to bilk and milk the US and other nations of billions of dollars--quite perverse and shameful. Sandy Gall's book on Afghanistan points out how Karzai and Pakistan squandered a ton of money literally. Y ...more
Carolyn Wagner
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spoiler - The title is a bit misleading - at the publishing of this book, they hadn't completely escaped the danger of an honor killing, but they were relatively safe. I've tried to find updates on the couple online, but there is nothing more recent than mid 2016. I was surprised how informative the appendices were, although they also made me ill to hear in graphic detail how women are treated in Afghanistan. I knew this, of course, but, again, reading it in detail truly made me ill and affected ...more
Jill Robbertze
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The spellbinding and very recent, true story of 2 young people in love that just want to marry and live, what to us would be a "normal" life, but in Afghanistan where marriages are arranged and where it is especially not possible to marry someone from another tribe, this is usually not only impossible but deadly. Abuse of women is rife and "honour killings" by a girl's own family are common. What I find most shocking is that in this day and age positive changes for women in this region are not b ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked the book and was captivated by the story of Zakia and Ali and their quest to be together. I admire Mr. Nordland for writing, and living, their story. It's a world I can't even imagine. Many times, the author referenced his necessity to walk the line between journalist, advocate and maybe even friend. I appreciate that after the story of Zakia andd Ali, Mr. Nordland took the time to talk about women's rights in Afghanistan. Worth the read, a little hard to get through quickly (foot ...more
Chad Bunch
Very interesting. Very disturbing. Deep insight into the way that the culture of Afghanistan treats girls and women.

The meat of the story got dull at times, but I found myself worrying about the fate of the young lovers, especially Zakia, who faced a possible mercy killing by her own parents and siblings just for falling in love with the wrong man.
Jane Thompson
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Afghan Story

This is an interesting book; the story of young lovers who decided to flought the rules of their society by falling in love. Even though there is a tradition of romance, love is not allowed for women. This story tells about the anti woman laws of Afghanistan and how the women of the country are trapped by the laws and traditions that enslave them.
Chris Myers
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent true story about a couple's plight from their culture and family. The farm couple endure hardships of living in foreign cities, the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, and being hunted as criminals all because they fell in love. The author fleshes out the story with other accounts of honor killings, rape, and the war against women. I really enjoyed this tale.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-read
Though interested in Zakia and Ali's story, what was most impact me about this book was learning about the widespread oppression of women in Afghanistan. It was sickening. I just wish we could save them all.
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