This book was eye-opening in all the best ways, although some of the stories were difficult to read. There is very mature and some graphic content in here, so proceed with caution, but proceed all the same.
Disclosure: I skipped the middle of the book. I had two hours to dedicate to reading her book, which stretched into three, but was not enough to finish it. I read up until she was considering becoming a politician and then skipped to her personal loss and then triumph. I learned many things, from petty to world-changing. The most petty is that I no longer read as fast as I used to, or that perhaps the content of the books I now choose is denser. Also, I have to make more of an effort for the names to stick with me. These slight obstacles aside, I would say I enjoyed it and had a wonderful time, which on the one hand I did, but it was also a difficult read, since the stories of suffering weigh on my heart and linger long after the reading is done. Joy came because I was reading a book without interruptions in a room of my own in a home that I love while my family was peacefully going about their days. Sorrow came too, that there is such suffering in the world and that poverty and lack of education seem to twist humanity in the same ways, whether it is Ecuador or Pakistan or South Sudan.
My favorite thing from Ms. Shahid is something I found online actually, and not in her book, although I wish it had been (unless it was in the middle part that I missed:
My favorite things from the book were her confidence in who she is and how that showed in her relationship with Ednan, her first husband and father to three of her children (I do not know if she now has more children or not). I enjoyed how she interwove work with family life, the concerns of a mother, cultural pressures, and being a wife and a politician. I would very much like to be friends with her. Perhaps one day we shall meet.
A quote from page 205, "...Mimi and Ali had encouraged the children to give us a serenade to John Denver's "Annie's Song," Ednan's favorite.
Parts of our stories overlap - that song, falling in love, being expatriates and part of an international community, large family life, a thirst for justice, a love of books and writing, and a personal love for God. In other ways, we are very different. I appreciate her opening up her world and her religion, all of which takes much courage.
I wish her much success and I have a new spot in my heart for Pakistan and its people because I read this book.