Next book

LAST TO EAT, LAST TO LEARN

MY LIFE IN AFGHANISTAN FIGHTING TO EDUCATE WOMEN

A lovingly narrated, sharply nuanced memoir from a talented activist.

A Pashtun girls’ education advocate and tribal leader reflects on Afghanistan's uncertain future.

Despite being a “third-generation refugee,” Durrani considers herself “privileged.” The daughter of an influential tribal leader, she grew up in a home large enough to dedicate two rooms to a family-run community school—despite the fact that her family owned land in Pakistan where they could have lived. Although Durrani understood that “educating girls was our family business,” it wasn’t until her 9-year-old friend and academic rival was forced to drop out of school to marry a widower in his late 30s that Durrani’s interest in this field went from professional to personal. “If you’re a tribal woman,” she writes, “the bar for activism is low. Trained our entire lives to be neither seen nor heard, whenever one of us tries to raise her voice, it becomes a political act.” Much to her mother’s dismay, the author’s dedication to girls’ education was so intense that she turned down a prestigious college preparation program at Oxford to start a nonprofit organization that used pre-loaded, solar-powered tablets to deliver educational content to Afghan girls who were unable to access formal schooling. When the pandemic, the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and—most devastatingly—her father’s unexpected death threatened the group’s future and her family’s financial security, Durrani was forced to choose between her mission and her life. Written with the assistance of veteran war correspondent Bralo, the text offers consistently adept observations, whether describing a dangerous border crossing as a mission that “required a Beyoncé-like number of wardrobe changes” or trenchantly illustrating how the widely underestimated tribal culture was, in fact, nimbler than the Afghani government and Western aid. Durrani’s voice sparkles with humor and grit, and she is a gifted storyteller, equally comfortable analyzing Afghanistan’s gender inequity and defending the strengths of the oft-underestimated culture and country she loves.

A lovingly narrated, sharply nuanced memoir from a talented activist.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780806542447

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Citadel/Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

Next book

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview