After being forced to flee Afghanistan, Rodriguez (co-author: Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, 2007) initially settled on an isolated mountaintop in Northern California. Here, she recounts her rocky readjustment to American life and eventual relocation to Mexico.
Back in the States, the once-confident, outgoing businesswoman found life in California unsettling, and she could not find suitable work or make friends. Eventually diagnosed with PTSD, the author received little substantive help for her problem. “I felt everything, all right,” she writes, “but wallowing in all that loss, grief, and loneliness left me exhausted, and even more depressed.” Always an adventure seeker and traveler, Rodriguez opted for a cruise to Mazatlan, Mexico, with a male friend. Beguiled by the sun, sand and ocean, she returned to the resort community and purchased a tiny bungalow. “So finally, I did what I should have done much, much earlier,” she writes. “I gave myself permission to leave.” The author packed her cat and her belongings into her car and headed south to her new home, where she slowly began rebuilding her life. She found a counselor who understood PTSD, and she surrounded herself with a vibrant group of new friends. Eventually, Rodriguez’s son relocated from the States and quickly married a local woman. Soon enough, the author became a grandmother. “And as horrified as some people my age might have been hearing news like that, I, on the other hand, was struck with wonder,” she writes. Business blossomed when Rodriguez opened a salon featuring pedicures and manicures. Realizing local girls needed help securing their futures, the author established Project Mariposa, which provides funds for girls to attend beauty school.
Readers who fell in love with Rodriguez’s chronicle of life in Afghanistan will surely revel in this candid, intimate tale of starting over in middle age in a new country.