About this book: (from the publisher)
Day 14: It should have been the beginning . . .
All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her home town, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read.
But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Just blocks from the guesthouse. Sending shockwaves through the community.
The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Marie’s closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning.
When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.
And in the end . . .
It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her community-all of it-to evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?
About the author: (from the publisher) Kate McCord (a pseudonym) lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. During her years in country, she worked as a humanitarian aid worker, delivering projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She also learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. After a evacuating from her home in Afghanistan, Ms. McCord transitioned into a mentoring, training, consulting and coaching role to other workers serving in the region. Prior to moving to Afghanistan, Ms. McCord worked in the international corporate community as a business process and strategy consultant. Currently, Ms. McCord serves the Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring and conducting workshops and seminars. She is the author of In the Land of Blue Burqas published by Moody Publishers in 2011.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG for intensity
How I’d judge this cover: Honestly, it doesn’t do much for me. Makes it looks more non-fiction than fiction (which was maybe the point?), and while its dark tones convey an appropriate degree of suspense, I personally don’t think it illustrates the fullness of this story.
Reminds me of… Three Cups of Tea
Will especially appeal to… readers, both women and men, who desire a true-to-life, behind-the-scenes look behind the Afghani curtain.
Would I read another by this author? Yes. I’d especially like to read her first book, a work of non-fiction (shown here).
This story matters because… it humanizes a people Westerners find all-too-easy to dehumanize; and because it shows how faith in Christ is real, relevant and redeeming in even the most hostile of environments.
My take: First, a point of interest: According to her acknowledgements, Kate McCord’s publisher was the one who encouraged her to write this true story as fiction rather than non-fiction. On the whole, I’d say this was a good call, as I imagine it gave the author freedom to develop characters and circumstances while still adhering to the general facets of truth.
There were certain parts of Farewell, Four Waters that especially resonated. I liked very much how it revealed a side to Afghanistan and its people most Westerners cannot know. After reading this book, I can understand why Marie (presumably based on the author’s experience) was so drawn to these people, especially the women. She sees their beauty of spirit and communicates that clearly.
I also love how the author helps us to understand the benign workings of the Muslim mind and culture. Through Marie, we’re offered a glimpse through objective yet thoroughly compassionate eyes.
My favorite scene is probably the one in which Marie shares her faith with a cab driver, explaining so clearly why she “cannot” be a Muslim that a light bulb went off in my mind too.
Given the rather grim cover art, I did expect the story’s drama to unfold more urgently than it did. It starts strong, but then with the immediate appearance of danger past, there isn’t a heightened sense of suspense. For a non-fiction writer, however, Kate McCord nonetheless does a capable job in crafting a fictive story.
Looking for a ripped-from-the-headlines, current-events kind of novel that will likely challenge and deepen your own faith? I suggest you give Farewell, Four Waters a try.
Thanks to River North/Moody Publishers for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: I’m so grateful to River North/Moody Publishers for offering to give away a copy of Farewell, Four Waters to a reader of my blog. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win.
Also–on Friday, Kate McCord herself will be stopping by. Stay tuned!