"After reader Tiny Dancer, one cannot help but be in awe of the human spirit. And it is a story of profound transformation, not merely physical, but that of the heart." -- Khaled Hosseini - author of The Kite Runner
It is the early summer of 2001 out in the remote deserts of Afghanistan, home to a nine year-old girl named Zubaida (Zoo-BAY-dah) Hassan and her large impoverished family. Zubaida’s simple life turns completely around when she accidentally falls into a kerosene fire. Her face and torso melt into a useless mass -- but she survives. There is no effective medical treatment available in her country. As a damaged female child, the Taliban ruled culture values Zubaida at nothing.
THEN – she and her father meet an American soldier on the street who takes them to the doctors at the U.S. base, in violation of standing orders about interacting with the local population. The military doctors are already swamped, but they can’t turn away from her.
Thus begins her two-year journey through a series of medical miracles provided by individual soldiers and a network of private American citizens. Throughout the story, events are rooted in Zubaida’s POV, to the point that when she first arrives in the U.S. alone, everyone seems to speak gibberish. But over the next year, the story follows her gradual understanding of Western culture and her enrollment in school for the first time, where her natural leadership qualities emerge among her American classmates.
While she experiences the restorative miracles of Dr. Peter Grossman and the home support of his wife, Rebecca, Zubaida blossoms physically and emotionally. A year later, she returns home eager to continue her education. She remains loyal to her clan, but she is also forever changed and will no longer tolerate the limited future that tradition has dictated for her.
She becomes a living example of how much education can do to free the trapped women of the Middle East, while she transforms from a figure of ridicule to a respected role model among Afghanistan’s formerly invisible female population.