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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
I have been reading two to four books a month for two decades and my favorite genre is memoir. But The Favored Daughter, One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future has now become my favorite book of all the memoirs I have read. I received this book as a winner in Goodreads and no payment has been made for this review. I know little about the daily life of an...
Published on January 23, 2012 by janetruth

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational woman but a disappointing book
Fawzia's story is an inspiration for women everywhere but especially in Afghanistan. The life of Fawzia Koofi stands out. Unfortunately, the book does not. I am not rating Fawzia with my 3 stars. I am rating the book.

THE FAVORED DAUGHTER is a short and somewhat simplistic read. The events in the book often felt glossed over, the attempts at imparting...
Published 22 months ago by E. Raye


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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, January 23, 2012
I have been reading two to four books a month for two decades and my favorite genre is memoir. But The Favored Daughter, One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future has now become my favorite book of all the memoirs I have read. I received this book as a winner in Goodreads and no payment has been made for this review. I know little about the daily life of an Afghanistan woman despite all the publicity since America has been fighting the Taliban and I have to give this book a full five stars.

I don't know exactly where to begin to describe how this book touched my heart. It wasn't just a book about the hardships of a woman in Afghanistan. It was a book about family values, a country's dearest culture, a mother's love for her daughters, a wife's love for her husband, and the indominatable spirit of a woman who believes under all hardships that helping people is better than doing anything else with one's life. Fawzia Koofi's accomplishments, despite and because of her daily challenges which were life and death, will change your thinking about your own life and circumstances.

I was riveted to the words and messages in this book and the power of Fawzia Koofi's story will last with me forever. Her words and testament to how she lives her life should be read by everyone. Today American girls are too interested in being skinny and each one of them should read The Favored Daughter. If nothing else it will show them what they do not have to conquer because America has already given them the advantages to become whatever is in their hearts. This is a most powerful book. The sentences are rich and tight with action and suspense, heartache and heartwarming scenes.

Truly, I could write a book about how this book opened my heart and renewed my own spirit. It centered me in my own values and I will probably read it again as it also teaches much more about the Afghanistan culture than the American media.

This is definitely a must read.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan's Future, February 24, 2012
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On my recent flight back to Kabul from Istanbul I just happened to sit next to Fawzia Koofi and enjoyed conversing with her. I also just happened to see her the night before on BBC's Hard Talk. Upon my return to Kabul I immediately downloaded her book on my Kindle and devoured it in 2 days. This is not just another book about how bad women are treated in Afghanistan. Her Chapter 20 is a must read for anyone interested in Afghanistan's future. She talks about her vision for the future of Afghanistan and the current "political malnourishment" of Afghanistan and lack of social capital that results in the typical Afghan only concerned about the welfare of his immediate family and not the country. She points out that Afghans are most concerned about governance and security. If these two issues can be addressed than social capital development should ensue. Access to education, especially for girls, is key in Fawzia's opinion to changing traditional treatment of women. Fawzia does not advocate for a secular Afghanistan, she firmly believes in the concept of an islamic democracy governed by the true teachings of the Koran.

Fawzia comes from one of the most unique, remote, and beautiful parts of Afghanistan. Her book regales the reader with information on what life is like there. Bear in mind that Afghanistan has more species of cats, such as snow leopards, than Africa with many of them endemic to her Badakshan.

There are many dark forces against people like Fawzia. Unfortunately non-Afghans are limited in the extent that they can help the Fawzia type change agents of the country. Ultimately outside influences need to leave Afghanistan alone and let Afghans work out their differences and decide the future of their country. She points out paradoxically that it was the Russians who started the 33 year period of foreign intervention that torn the fabric of Afghanistan. Yet it was the Russian emphasis on infrastructure and universal education that offered the greatest promise for improving the plight of the typical Afghan.

Let's hope that Fawzia does not end up as a martyr. The World is much better off with her in it.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Muslim woman's perspective, June 27, 2012
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As a Muslim I am grateful to Fawzia Koofi to have expressed the strength and ease I find in Islam in a book that is relevant and accessible to readers beyond those who read religious texts. Describing the kindness of others in extreme adversity, she writes, "Even though they didn't have much for themselves they still gave what little they could. This is what it means to be a true Muslim." Clarifying the essence of Islamic modesty, regardless of cultural or governmental dictates, she writes, "Covering the hair with a head scarf and wearing a long loose tunic that covers one's arms, chest and bottom is enough to satisfy the Islamic rule of being modest before God." Her vivid and horrifying stories of Taliban rule support my opinion of "how much the Taliban had damaged Islam." Above all, Fawzia Koofi gives voice to the dignity and respect Muslim girls and women are due within the tenets of the religion. Yes, many people will credit Islam with allowing the father to beat the wife, and I think the author makes it clear that her father's actions were a cultural practice well beyond what the Qur'an condones. May God bless her and keep Fawzia Koofi strong in her faith and good health. She is a voice of moderation in Islam and a sensible interpreter of living a productive, active life in the modern world as an observant Muslim.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational woman but a disappointing book, May 2, 2013
Fawzia's story is an inspiration for women everywhere but especially in Afghanistan. The life of Fawzia Koofi stands out. Unfortunately, the book does not. I am not rating Fawzia with my 3 stars. I am rating the book.

THE FAVORED DAUGHTER is a short and somewhat simplistic read. The events in the book often felt glossed over, the attempts at imparting emotion stilted and there was a general sense of disassociation. This could be explained, of course, by the vast cultural divide between myself, a Western reader, and Fawzia. However, there are timeline conflicts and continuity issues that an editor should have had clarified and by not doing so it felt as if the editor handled the story with kid gloves, as did Fawzia herself. This book was a surface telling of events.

One timeline issue involved Fawzia's brother Muqim, who, according to Fawzia, was two years older than her (page 25). However, she says he died at the age of 23 (64) when Fawzia was still a teenager, about age 16. Another problem was Muqim's death, which was a premeditated murder (assassin had to wait until bodyguards were dismissed, sneak in and then shot him to death while he slept, stealing nothing in the process). Yet Fawzia romanticized her brother and never delves into the likely shadiness of her brother's life. His murder is summed up as something "we simply didn't have any answers" to (67). This is strange considering her other brother is a Police General, was the one to dismiss the bodyguards when he normally doesn't do that, and was in the house at the time of the murder. Maybe I'm being cynical, but there is much more to that story than Fawzia acknowledges (or perhaps was told?).

Furthermore, another glossed over story is how Fawzia is elected to Deputy Speaker. She writes that she didn't stand a chance at winning, especially with the rampant corruption and bias in the political system. Yet, seemingly because of an inspirational speech, she wins with a large majority (page 238). Really? Just, how? Again, maybe I'm too cynical, but there must have been some serious behind the scene action going on for that to get pulled off (perhaps not everything on the up-and-up despite her claims to never stoop to those levels) and yet Fawzia breezes right by it, perhaps hoping no one questions her too closely about it (which, obviously, the editor didn't). There are holes in this book that I had a hard time just shrugging away.

There were also a few issues with how the story was presented. For instance, the book jacket states Fawzia overcame poverty. Let's clarify: Fawzia's family was wealthy and influential. Yes, she suffered financial setbacks. However, her family members held important positions in government (some with the mujahideens even), her brother was powerful and owned several houses and even her "poor" husband, who was beneath her family's status, was able to buy a house and deliver $20,000 cash to marry her. By Afghan standards her family is way above the norm. She is without a doubt a strong woman and I am amazed at her fortitude. However, she had far more advantages than most Afghan women.

What is amazing about her is that she uses those advantages to try and benefit others and that she does so under such adversity.

I liked how Fawzia explained the traditions and customs of her people and how the various wars changed them, especially with the Taliban. The everyday violence of her life is far removed from my own experiences and I'm amazed by her strength. I'm very glad I read this book and it did help me to understand more intimately what happened in Afghanistan and how a Muslim woman views her spirituality and life in general.

There is a specific thing that I'm still trying to understand. Both her brother Muqim and her husband Hamid showed, what I would consider, stalker tendencies towards the women they "loved". Muqim spends four years watching a girl he hardly ever sees or speaks to, standing outside her house and such. And Hamid waits for Fawzia to show up at her school and watches her/follows her. This is creepy, dial 911 behavior in the West. Hamid waits SIX years to marry her based on a handful of meetings (unless there was more to it than Fawzia admits). Are these behaviors culturally normal?

Unfortunately, this book did not deliver the depth and detail I was expecting and hoping for (there are several other things I would mention, but this review is long already). This is more of a springboard to further reading. A good starting point if one is interesting in learning about Afghanistan, especially women's roles, but I wouldn't take everything in this story at face value. Fawzia is an interesting woman but this book was too incomplete to do her or the issues involved justice.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Painful Reading, February 17, 2012
The title - The Favored Daughter - is a mind boggling illusion. Fawzia was anything but a favored daughter. Left to die at birth because she was female ( her father had a new young wife who had produced a son), and again when the family is running for their lives, an older sister says "throw Fawzia in the river" because she was too little to keep up, tells the real story. Fortunately, Fawzia had a heroic mother who would not give up so easily. The picture painted here of the Afgan culture is also an illusion. Fawzia repeatedly reminds her two young daughters (and the Western readers) that the Taliban do not represent the loving, peaceful Islam that she knows. Sadly, Ms. Koofi can not (at least publicly) separate the Afgan culture from her religion. The oppression of women, the refusal to educate girls, and the myriad of other abuses related in this story are deeply embedded in this region. I wish there were more women like Fawzia Koofi in Afganistan. But the reality is that she stands alone, an anomaly in her culture and religion. I can only salute her bravery and ambition to make a change.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jon Stewart is My Book Club Overlord, April 3, 2013
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I would have never known about this book if not for the author's appearance on "The Daily Show". The book is amazing. Her story is compelling and powerful. I shared it with my 4 daughters and they really found it inspirational as well. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very compelling take on what it is like to be a woman in Afghanistan, April 9, 2012
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I heard the author being interviewed on NPR and am so glad that I remembered to look up the book and order this powerful memoir. The author provides a rich description of what it is like to be a woman in Afghanistan - which is in and of itself very compelling and also heartbreaking. But even more, she demonstrates the importance of taking chances and fighting for what you believe in. At times, I had to remind myself that I was reading about a contemporary as the world she was describing often seemed like something out of another era. I feel like I have a much better understanding of recent events in Afghanistan and as well as the personal challenges of living through this ongoing conflict.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It Now!, August 18, 2012
This review is from: The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future (Kindle Edition)
This is a very important and currently relevant memoir. Her story is so unique and yet also so representative. I am amazed and inspired. I hope that the story she has told so far is just the beginning and that her name will be the the first of many remembered for their courage in changing the plight of women in Afghanistan. In changing the plight of women in her own nation, she can change the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a vision!, April 23, 2012
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Just by reading the reviews about this book you get inspired. I did!
And then you read the actual words of the writer and they make you feel like the world can so easily become a better place if we all fight for it and support the right kind of change.
Not much to say about this book rather than it is very skillfully written. With a lot of intelligence & a love for a country we all have heard so much about but truly know so little of!
Thank you for this gift and for helping us 'grow'!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be required reading., May 31, 2013
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An amazing story. I will not lie, it was hard to read at times, but it was worth it and despite the tears I could not put the book down. It's heartbreaking and eye opening to read what has been happening in Afghanistan. This is a must read, even if you don't follow politics. This book has so many layers to it, it feels as though you are reading several books at once.
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