*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: A Door in the Earth
Author: Amy Waldman
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Parveen Shamsa, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. When she discovers a bestselling book called Mother Afghanistan, a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane’s experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.
A Door in the Earth is an in-depth exploration into what we think we know and what is actual truth. Set in the years post-9/11, this story features a young academic, Parveen, who is called to action by a prolific memoir of a man who traveled to Afghanistan and brought hope and help to a small village there, and exposed Americans to the world beyond the war taking place. As a woman of Afghan heritage and a might-be medical anthropologist, Parveen seeks not only to know more about the place where her parents emigrated from, but also to understand the very real and traumatic experience of women in a community where women lack access to health care or medical knowledge. Once settled in this place to different to her own home, Parveen is forced to question what is truth and what is reality. Nothing is as it seems and she must shift her paradigm to account for a world that is so much more complicated than she previously understood.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was it’s message of thinking critically about what one hears or reads. Parveen is an example of blind belief is someone she believed to be a saviour, but who’s story is not what it seems. It takes travelling around the globe for her to realize what truth really is and to form her own observations and opinions in order to make a real difference. This book is also an exploration of race and gender and how these concepts differ from culture to culture. Parveen’s ideas of women in Afghanistan are initially shaped through the white, male lens, a perspective that is so far from the truth and proves to be incredibly coloured and not well-informed. This perspective is inherently flawed as this story is not meant to be told by this author despite the impact that it had globally. Only each individual can speak their own truth and their own experiences, as Parveen comes to learn.
My only struggle with this book was Parveen herself. As a university-educated woman, I often found her to be disconnected from reality and incredibly naive. She sees danger nowhere and rushes head-first into situations without taking into account cultural and situational differences. I liked her much better by the end of the story as she experiences true growth and development, but I found her frustrating from the outset. Despite her flaws, she did move the story along and is a strong woman who ultimately wants to find answers and truth for herself. Her motivations are good and pure.
I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. Happy reading!