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Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: River North
Publication Date: 2014
|Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 X .75 (inches)|
Day 14: It should have been the beginning . . .
All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan, to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her home town, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read.
But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Just blocks from the guesthouse. Sending shockwaves through the community.
The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Maries closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning.
When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.
And in the end . . .
It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her communityall of itto evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?
"Farewell, Four Waters is the story of a young aid worker living in Afghanistan. What makes it special for us is becoming immersed in her everyday life in a hostile environment. Though to her and her team, it is her passion to try to make the world a better place against all odds."
Reviewed by Bobbi Skaggs, Sept 17, 2014
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Informative but not compelling readingMarch 30, 2015bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3In this very revealing book, McCord (not her real name) has woven her experiences and those of others into a novel about a young woman working for an NGO in Afghanistan. Marie is the main character, a single young woman working in a woman's literacy project.
Our first view of her work is in getting all of the stamps and signatures needed for the government's approval of the latest project. That gives us some insight into the whole governmental system of the country.
Marie travels to a village to meet with the literate woman and set of a classroom. Materials are provided and Marie oversees the work. In the course of Marie's visits, we readers find out more about the village and the power structure of the people there. We learn of deep seated animosity between some people groups or some families.
Two aspects of the work in Afghanistan come across very clearly. One is the danger from external forces, such as tribal rivalry. One family might cause an explosion at the wedding celebration of a hated family. A western woman might be gunned down in the street. Western workers might be kidnapped for ransom. You might be awakened in the night, windows shattering from the shelling of a nearby building.
The other danger comes from within. Marie had been working in Afghanistan for years and had already seen one person leave who was supposed to be working with her for some time. Now a relatively newcomer was planning to leave. Through Marie's journal entries and thought, we find out the toll it takes on Marie's faith and mental stability.
This is an enlightening book. As we follow Marie in her work, we get glances of the local people, their thoughts, traditions, and how they treat westerners. Marie is a Christian and it was interesting to see how she let Muslims know of her belief. We also see how careful those over Marie wanted her to be, especially when she visited villages.
I had a little trouble with the writing style of this novel. The sentences were often stilted or seemed disconnected. I had trouble liking the character of Marie. We read many of her thoughts. They seemed to jump around a great deal. Also, Marie was a little arrogant, frequently questioning the directions of those over her. I just did not see her as a likable character. Part of that might be her disillusionment. Marie had come into Afghanistan with high ideals, with a certain attitude. She left with a much more realistic attitude. I also felt like I was reading a sequel. Marie had been at her work for years and I felt like I was only reading the tail end of a longer story.
If you are looking for a fast moving novel, one with lots of action, this is not it. If you are looking for a novel that is character driven, it is not that either. If you want to learn what it was like for a young woman to work in Afghanistan, this one will do that for you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
An Old Fashioned GirlMinnesotaAge: 25-34Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5More of a cultural piece than a thrilling suspenseJanuary 10, 2015An Old Fashioned GirlMinnesotaAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 3To be clear, this is a work of fiction, but it is based on a number of real events. Rather than the suspenseful tale I was expecting, this is really more of a tribute to Afghanistan - the people and the land, the good and the bad, and the beautiful and the ugly. As Marie is falling in love with the village of Four Waters, it is easy to be caught up in her enthusiasm and fall in love too. The people are by no means perfect - great wrongs have been done and continue to be done, even within the most important family - but their humanity is clear.
I enjoyed learning about the Afghan culture. While I would not say I am an expert after reading this, the story offers much to appreciate about the Afghan people, and it has much to teach about the culture, especially the women's role. As Americans, we tend to think of Afghanistan as peopled by terrorists and the poor oppressed who cannot fight them, and that the Muslim men have all the rights and the women have none. However, there are many people groups within the country, and even within cities and villages, with all manner of economic situations. While women may have fewer rights, the rules governing their behavior are not as strict as the media would have us believe. Or at least such was my understanding after reading this book.
My problem with Marie is that she is pretty aloof - she tends to hold back from the other aid workers, even her housemate, to avoid being hurt (which doesn't work), and, while she exhibits tons of compassion for the Afghan people, she doesn't show it well with her coworkers. I don't like how she has separated herself mentally from them, and it makes it hard to really connect with her. However, events do force a shift in priorities and attitude, which help near the end.
One thing the author hits right on the head is how we so often think of prayer and God. "How do I know God is with me? I pray. I'm sad, angry, excited, maybe just bored. Then I pray and remember--God's with me. I feel His presence. [She chided herself.] But really, most of the time I just forget. I work. I get busy. I live here like I'm alone. Most of the time, anyway" (171). It's a really easy trap to fall into. If someone asks us how we know God is there, we have an easy answer - I pray and He answers, or I feel His presence. But do we really live each moment of every day with Him?
This book reads differently than most novels, and I think it is because its goal is to convey real experiences (though not necessarily the exact situations the author went through). I've read novels with more poignant prose and greater flare for a story, but this one feels real, whereas most suspense novels are simply an enjoyable escape from reality. While I did not love the book, I feel it tells an important tale that will help the average American truly connect with the experiences of foreign aid workers, missionaries, and, above all, a people we tend to misunderstand.
Thank you Moody Publishers for a free book in exchange for an honest review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Britney Adams4 Stars Out Of 5A compelling story!December 2, 2014Britney AdamsFarewell, Four Waters is a compelling story based on actual events. The author, Kate McCord (a protective pseudonym), lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. Drawing from her own experiences, as well as those of others, she paints a vivid picture of life as a humanitarian aid worker.
This fictional tale brings the character of Marie, an American aid worker, to life and shares a world most of us cannot imagine. Maries story is full of emotion as she recounts her work and life in a war-torn country and the events that necessitated her leaving the people and places she loved. Farewell, Four Waters is a stirring, thought-provoking story!
My thanks to Moody Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.