Holly (2 Kids and Tired)'s Reviews > Veiled Freedom

Veiled Freedom by J.M. Windle
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's review
Apr 23, 2009

really liked it
Read in June, 2009

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. The book opens in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001. Steve Wilson, a young, idealistic soldier, and the American forces have liberated Afghanistan, or so they thought. Eight years later, when Steve returns to Afghanistan as security chief to the Ministry of Interior, he's no longer idealistic and is angered at the greed and corruption he sees everywhere.

Amy Mallory, a young relief worker, arrives in Kabul ready to change the world and liberate the women of Afghanistan. As a Christian woman, she is faced with many obstacles but, still, comes to love the people. As she finds her way, she meets Steve and his security team, as well as Jamil, a young Afghan man who becomes her translator and assistant.

Jeanette Windle has captured a society in all its honest and difficult detail. So much of the aid and relief that is sent into Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries is never seen by those who need it most. Greed and corruption is rampant. Women have never been seen as equals. I am not familiar with the people and politics of Afghanistan, but the descriptions and attention to detail here was incredible. Here we see not only the cultural differences within Afghanistan itself, but the cultural differences between Christianity and Islam.

As Amy works with women who were former prisoners, she organizes a half-way house where they can go as they try to find places for themselves after their release from prison. Most of these women are not true hardened criminals, but Islamic law has condemned them for different reasons. With Jamil to help her, she begins to make a difference in the lives of women and children. As she and Jamil strengthen their friendship, Amy shares with him her belief in Jesus Christ. Jamil's journey as he struggles to come to terms with his forced belief in Islam and his growing love for Christ is beautiful. I found myself underlining several passages as Amy and Jamil discuss the differences between Christianity and Islam. I am not familiar with Islam and so I don't know how accurate the portrayal of it is here, but the interactions between Amy and Jamil were moving.

The first couple chapters were a bit slow starting for me as I found my way around the subject matter and the foreign words and phrases, which were tossed in here and there. Once I found my footing, however, I couldn't put the book down. I was completely captivated. These were characters I cared about.

My copy is an unedited ARC, so I don't know what the finished product is like. I would have appreciated a glossary because there were many words and phrases I was not familiar with and while I could assume some meanings, definitions would have been appreciated. I also wish Amy and Steve's relationship could have been a bit more resolved, but the ending was perfect.

With compelling characters and an equally compelling narrative, Veiled Freedom is a remarkable book and one I highly recommend.
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