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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (10,697 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Deborah Rodriguez Narrator: Bernadette Dunn Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Most Westerners now working in Afghanistan spend their time tucked inside the wall of a military compound or embassy. Deborah Rodriguez is one of the very few who lives life smack in the middle of Kabul. Now, Rodriguez tells the story of the beauty school she founded and the vibrant women who were her students there.

When Rodriguez opened the Kabul Beauty School, she not only empowered her students with a new sense of autonomy—in the strictly patriarchal culture, the beauty school proved a small haven—but also made some of the closest friends of her life. Woven through the book are the stories of her students. There is the newlywed who must fake her own virginity, the twelve-year-old bride who has been sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, and the wife of a member of the Taliban who pursues her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. All of these women have a story to tell, and all of them bring their stories to the Kabul Beauty School, where, along with Rodriguez herself, they learn the art of perms, of friendship, and of freedom.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Kabul Beauty School transcends the feel-good genre largely because of the author’s superior storytelling gifts and wicked sense of humor.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A terrific opening chapter—colorful, suspenseful, funny—ushers readers into the curious closed world of Afghan women.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Listeners are aided in their sojourn to this land by the clear and confident narration of Bernadette Dunne. Her delivery will make listeners will feel it’s the author herself telling them about her students, love life, and political problems. Rodriguez’s experiences are fascinating, and Dunne makes them more so.”


  • “Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan to transform her own life and ended up revolutionizing the lives of many of her Afghan sisters. This book made me feel like I was right there in the beauty salon, sharing in the tears and laughter as, outside my door, an entire country changed. Kabul Beauty School is inspiring, exciting, and not to be missed.”

    Masha Hamilton, author of The Distance between Us

  • “An enthralling story from the opening page. Rodriugez’s memoir captivated me with its humor and feminine power. A more apt name for a salon could not be found: that small building, where the practice of beauty is both an act of defiance and tradition, is indeed an oasis. A place I was very happy to linger in.”

    Marsha Mehran, author of Pomegranate Soup

  • “Rodriguez writes an eye-opening and heart-rending story of tenacity and courage as she empowers, employs, and enriches the women of Kabul to run their own beauty parlor businesses. In her writing she gives a new voice to the people of Afghanistan. You will finish it and want to meet her!”

    Carol Fitzgerald, founder and president of Bookreporter.com

  • “Riveting from the start…Refreshingly charismatic and gossipy, Rodriguez’s voice is endearingly unguarded, just like that of a chatty hairdresser. The women she meets are described in loving detail…Rodriguez’s are Western eyes, and it is easy to imagine an Afghan woman being offended by some details she divulges, but underneath the culture clash is genuine care, respect, and juicy storytelling.”


  • “Terrifically readable and rich in personal stories.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jenny | 2/19/2014

    " Of all of the books I have read about Afghanistan, this one is the best. This book is the true story of a woman who goes to Afghanistan to do service work and sets up a beauty school for Afghan women. I can't help but wonder how this book has affected these women and if there has been any repercussions for them. I highly recommend reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Barb | 2/14/2014

    " I thought it was a good story. Hard to believe that all of these things happened. Guess I'm a sceptic. From Debbie's description of the men that she had contact with in Afghanistan, they seem to be double-minded. Dealing drugs, drunkenness, sexual harrassing other women not to mention how they treated their wives! I remember when there was news about helping women in Afghanistan. I support that but it saddened me to read how some of these women treated each other. They abuse each other too! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Courtney Milford | 2/13/2014

    " Extremely brave beautician travels with beauty supplies to Afghanistan to teach the women there how to run salons. In that culture, the beauty salon is one place where the women can have privacy and be themselvse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Becca | 2/3/2014

    " I liked this book in that it gave an interesting perspective on life in Afghanistan and the way women view beauty there, in spite of the oppression they endure. It is always interesting to me to see how each culture has different standards of modesty and propriety. While one culture may be seen as very conservative and straight-laced, they may still do things that make people from other cultures blush and vice versa. This book brought so of that out. On the other hand though, I felt like the view of Afghanistan presenting in this book was very much naive and almost as if through rose colored glasses. The author took lots of risks and made it seem as though what she was doing was safe and ok. However, looking at the media today will help anyone see a different perspective on life in Kabul. Now I'm not saying that the media is 100% accurate in their portrayal, but at the same time, I think the author presents the other extreme and it is important for the reader to reconcile the two and reach a happy medium. "

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About the Author
Author Deborah Rodriguez

Deborah Rodriguez is a hairdresser, a motivational speaker, and the author of the bestselling memoir Kabul Beauty School. She spent five years teaching at and later directing the Kabul Beauty School, the first modern beauty academy and training salon in Afghanistan. She also owned the Oasis Salon and the Cabul Coffee House. She currently lives in Mazatlán, Mexico.