The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul - Deborah Rodriguez {REVIEW}


I love learning about different cultures...and different worlds, and I guess that is one of the many things that draws me to reading in general. No matter what you read, you are usually able to escape your reality and enter into a world belonging to someone else, realistic, or otherwise. Curiousity got the best of me when I was on the Book Depository site awhile back and I picked up this book: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, by Deborah Rodriquez. Now that I think of it, maybe it was the name that got my attention... ;)

When I started reading this book, I was hoping for a light read as it was right around Christmas and I didn't want anything too serious or heavy. I would say that this work of fiction falls more into the category of chick-lit than what I was expecting, or really, what I had wanted, but I made it through. I wasn't sure I even wanted to write a review of the book, but I figured since I had stuck with the book and finished it, I might as well share my thoughts. I think for myself, its more difficult to write a critical book review, rather than the more glowing and positive ones. So I'm considering this a challenge to myself!

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul is many stories in one: it's an adventure story, and one of many romances. It's a story of loss, and of war. It's a story which explores culture, and personal growth. Based on the above summary, it should have been the perfect book for me. 

I wanted to enjoy this book. Obviously...that's why I bought it right?? But there were so many times in which I literally paused, glanced over at my bookshelf and considered taking out another book...any other book. I think what I found so frustrating about this book was that there were so many different characters - many of whom were interesting - but whose stories were either overshadowed, overlooked, or just simply mishandled. It just kept falling short. Beyond that, I found the book lacked a good flow. Have you ever watched Drunk History? That's sort of how it felt reading this book. The focus kept shifting from one POV to another, in a way that was more distracting than insightful. One minute you were following Sunny, and the next you were in Ahmet's mind. I've read plenty of books which jump from character to character, but this was just plain confusing. I found it to be a distraction from what had the potential to be an interesting story. Had it been told from the POV of less characters, it might have had better flow in my opinion.

Beyond the flow, I feel like the book wants to be so many things all at once. Is it a story of overcoming challenges and adversity? Is it a story of community? Does the book seek to explore and highlight a culture, sharing it with readers who might not know much about Afghanistan? Is it a unique take on feminism? Or is it simply...another odd romance novel that in some ways, tries to dive into all of the former mentioned topics, consequently making one hell of a confusing book? Ding, ding.... I'm really sorry to say this but that's the winner. I feel like this book had potential to create a unique story, and instead provided one which was watered down and filled with stereotypical chick-lit romances, as if the female reader cant handle anything complicated or dynamic. It felt like the author was just manipulating the "exotic" scene of Kabul to set her cheesy romance story in. I'm sorry, but I think this book really missed the mark. What's more is that after all my struggling to stay with reading the book and make it through to the end, the end was like some afterthought. It drives me nuts when you make it through some long saga of a story and then it's like the author just say there thinking, "oh shit, I guess I should end it now." and boom: a few pages of cliff hangers and loose ends tied up all slapdash. ARGHHH!

What I can say is that, I'm proud of myself for trudging through a book which was wildly underwhelming, but beyond that, there isn't much to offer in terms of positive criticism (the cover of my copy was rather pretty??).

Apparently there is a continuation to this story. I feel so exhausted after reading this one, that I highly doubt I will ever find the need to continue down this literary road. If you've read it, would you say it helps to redeem the first book? Is it just as bad? If you did enjoy The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, I'd love to hear your reasons in the comments - maybe it was simply a bad book for me. Different strokes for different folks and all! 

Remember, you can always follow my reading on Good Reads. I always record & rate what I'm reading there, even if I don't write a review on the blog!

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