Rodriguez writes a compelling story that unmasks the daily struggles and beauty in the life of Afghan women. Her memoir is delicately constructed, with vivid characters and intertwined stories of her own hardships in managing the Kabul school and stories of women attending the school. They flow together effortlessly, each vignette becoming a part of the greater whole of the beauty school and its women. This is not the most sophisticated piece of writing, but her personality shines through in this memoir which helps connect her to her students and the school. Her narration is a bit clichéd at parts, but she does a good job of balancing the heavy material with the light and humorous. Rodriquez's humor and lightheartedness give these women a feeling of hope. Not only does Rodriquez go behind the veil, she takes us beneath it into the lives, tragedies, and celebrations of women and it is there that the true power of this book lies. The telling stories of these characters, Roshana, the girl who faked her virginity on her wedding night, Robina, the girl who lived alone with her sister and faced harassment and danger daily, and others who try to emancipate themselves from the confines of their men and culture are the stories that resonate in this memoir.
Equally eye opening and interesting is what we learn about Afghan culture. The process of a dowry and the family waiting while a newly married couple consummate are details that make her memoir vivid and unforgettable. We also see this through Rodriquez's marriage to an Afghan man. Her memoir may not be literary masterpiece, but it gives a first hand account of a culture and of women that is worth listening to.