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The battered body of an Afghan boy is found at the base of a cliff outside a remote village in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Did he fall as most of the villagers think? Or is this the work of American soldiers, as others want to believe? Not far from the village, the US Army has set up a training outpost.
Sofi, the boy's illiterate young mother, is desperate to find the truth about her son's death. But extremists move in and offer to roust the "infidels" from the region, adding new pressures and restrictions for the small village and its women.
We hear two sides of this story. One is Sofi's. The other is that of US Army Special Ranger Joey Pearson, who is in this faraway place to escape a rough childhood and rigidly fundamentalist parents.
In time, and defying all odds, Sofi secretly learns to read—with the help of Mita Samuelson, an American aid worker. Through reading, the Afghan woman develops her own interpretation of how to live the good life while discovering the identity of her son's murderer and the extremists' real purpose in her village.
As they search for answers, Sofi, Joey, and Mita come to the same realization: in each of their separate cultures the urge to preserve a way of life can lead to a fundamentalism that destroys a society's basic values.
“An exceptionally well-written tale of love, loss, trust, and greed with appeal that reaches far beyond mystery fans.”
“A great societal thriller…. Action-packed, readers will feel they are in [Afghanistan]…. One of the top novels of the year….”
“This fictional woman halfway across the world isn’t so different from you and me. Froetschel has great respect for the Afghan culture and deftly provides a slice-of-life tale that moves, informs and even surprises.”
“Froetschel pulls the reader in almost from the first word with her dynamic plot twists.”
—Women’s Book Reviews
“Susan Froetschel makes the Afghanistan conflict real on a personal level, in a tale rich with thought-provoking themes. . . . Fear of Beauty is a wonderful novel.”
—Sandra Parshall, Agatha Award-winning author of Bleeding Through
“Froetschel is a superb storyteller. She brings the rugged beauty of Afghanistan, its simple folk, and its many dangers together in a spine-tingling tale."
—Nayan Chanda, author of Bound Together
Susan Froetschel (Washington, DC) is the author of three previous novels—Alaska Gray, Interruptions, and Royal Escape. In addition, she has written articles for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Barron's, and many other publications. She has taught at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University, and she is currently a consultant for YaleGlobal Online at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.