Elsa wants to help. In her young life she has already went through a lot with her own family, and now that they are all gone she wants to reach out and take care of someone else. Seeing an ad in a magazine for Aide du Monde, a relief organization, she decides to give them a call. But what she lacks at this point as a young nurse in the local hospital is experience. Not giving up, she joins the ER/Trauma unit and not only gains experience, but confidence as well. Six months later she gets her assignment- Afghanistan.
Then, 9/11 happens and her assignment is put on hold. She’s crushed but lets them know she’s still interested in helping out and she would still go to Afghanistan if called. The following spring that’s exactly what happens.
Dropped off by jeep in the dusty mud plastered village of Bamiyan, Elsa begins her year of working with the sick and the injured at the little clinic. At first, met with resistance by the male Afghani doctor, she quickly gains friends and respect as she treats the patients and vllagers with love.
Then she meets Parween, and though they are world’s apart, they become fast friends. She’s with Parween when Parween loses her dear friend Mariam, and Parween is there when Elsa falls in love with Mike, a soldier close by on assignment.
This novel starts out so realistically I had to keep looking at the back cover to see if it was autobiographical, and indeed, it just might be. The author Roberta Gately served as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker in third world war zones ranging from Afghanistan to Africa. But I believe, realistic as it sounds, it is just a novel with some very real touches from the author who lived what she writes about.
I enjoyed this journey to another country and another culture. Gately writes well and I grew to love her characters, especially Parween. 3/5 stars