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Zoya's Story


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Zoya grew up Kabul, Afghanistan, and escaped to Pakistan after a bomb killed her parents. She works in a refugee camp in Pakistan among the thousands who have fled their country.Rita Cristofari has been a press officer for the UN and Medecins Sans Frontieres and writes on human rights issues.John Follain is a graduate of Oxford University and works for Reuters.


Now 23, Zoya was a child during the Russian invasion and a teen when the Taliban took power. The daughter of activists in Kabul, Zoya was raised by her grandmother after her parents disappeared. She now belongs to RAWA (see the review of Veiled Courage, above), a group her mother belonged to. Her reflections show the complex scars made by the tug of war between factional governments and tribal warlords, especially the effects of the Taliban. Many of Zoya's stories (e.g., women only permitted to leave their homes wearing a burqa and accompanied by a male; women often suffering and dying for want of a female physician) are covered in Latifa's My Forbidden Face (Forecasts, Mar. 11). Zoya tells of a society where kite flying, bright colors and even women's laughter is forbidden, and enforcers are often armed with Russian military leftovers or crude stones. Yet the Afghans Zoya speaks of remain rebellious and hopeful. She writes, "When I... saw Kabul in the daylight, even the mountains beyond the city which had seemed so peaceful to me when I was a child looked sad. But... that I had seen them again... made me feel stronger." Assigned by RAWA to live and work in a refugee camp near the Afghan-Pakistani border, Zoya now also travels abroad to raise funds for her organization. Her narrative voice is quiet and clear, making her recollections of the breathtaking violence she has witnessed nail-bitingly vivid and her descriptions of her struggle candid and poignant. Agent, Clare Alexander. (Apr.) Forecast: Like My Forbidden Face, this account will appeal to a more commercial readership. Coming on the heels of that memoir, Zoya's Story could lose some potential sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Adult/High School-Born in Afghanistan in 1978, Zoya was an infant when the Muslim fundamentalist Mujahideen enlisted the aid of the United States to help fight against the Russian invasion of her country. Her parents homeschooled her for two major reasons: the Mujahideen often bombed the schools, and the teachers taught more about Russia than about their own country. Zoya's mother was an active member of the illegal and secret Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which worked tirelessly to help women and to liberate Afghanistan. Often, to carry on her undercover work, she wore the hot, cumbersome burqua. Zoya discusses the many beatings, rapes, tortures, amputations, and executions committed by the Mujahideen and the Taliban. After her parents were murdered for their revolutionary work, she and her adoptive grandmother fled to Pakistan. In her mid-teens, she devoted her life to liberating Afghanistan through literacy classes, rescue efforts, and speeches. She describes her first visit to New York in February 2001, and expresses the sympathy that she and her friends felt on September 11. Readers will relate to Zoya's clear, personal account of recent Afghan history, and her story would be a good supplemental text for social-studies courses.-Joyce Fay Fletcher, Rippon Middle School, Prince William County, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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