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A Cup of Friendship

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A Cup of Friendship

A Novel
From the author of the "bighearted . . . inspiring" (Vogue) memoir Kabul Beauty School comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of...
From the author of the "bighearted . . . inspiring" (Vogue) memoir Kabul Beauty School comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of...
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  • From the author of the "bighearted . . . inspiring" (Vogue) memoir Kabul Beauty School comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of Afghanistan, and the men and women who meet there--thrown together by circumstance, bonded by secrets, and united in an extraordinary friendship.

    After hard luck and some bad choices, Sunny has finally found a place to call home--it just happens to be in the middle of a war zone. The thirty-eight-year-old American's pride and joy is the Kabul Coffee House, where she brings hospitality to the expatriates, misfits, missionaries, and mercenaries who stroll through its doors. She's especially grateful that the busy days allow her to forget Tommy, the love of her life, who left her in pursuit of money and adventure.

    Working alongside Sunny is the maternal Halajan, who vividly recalls the days before the Taliban and now must hide a modern romance from her ultratraditional son--who, unbeknownst to her, is facing his own religious doubts. Into the café come Isabel, a British journalist on the trail of a risky story; Jack, who left his family back home in Michigan to earn "danger pay" as a consultant; and Candace, a wealthy and well-connected American whose desire to help threatens to cloud her judgment.

    When Yazmina, a young Afghan from a remote village, is kidnapped and left on a city street pregnant and alone, Sunny welcomes her into the café and gives her a home--but Yazmina hides a secret that could put all their lives in jeopardy. As this group of men and women discover that there's more to one another than meets the eye, they'll form an unlikely friendship that will change not only their own lives but the lives of an entire country.

    Brimming with Deborah Rodriguez's remarkable gift for depicting the nuances of life in Kabul, and filled with vibrant characters that readers will truly care about, A Cup of Friendship is the best kind of fiction--full of heart yet smart and thought-provoking.

    From the Hardcover edition.

  • Chapter One

    It was a vibrant blue-skied Afghan morning, the kind that made Yazmina stop to loosen her scarf and tilt her face to the sun. She and her younger sister, Layla, were returning from the well, their calloused feet accustomed to repeated treks on the ancient dirt. The tiny cowrie shells that decorated Yazmina's long black dress clacked with every step. She looked toward the snow-capped peaks to the north and prayed that this winter, Inshallah, God willing, would not be as bad as the last. It was so cold, so unforgiving, killing the goats, freezing the earth, destroying any chance of a good wheat crop. Another winter like that would surely make the threat of starvation real.

    Her secret, the one she carried in her belly, the one she could hide for only another month or two, flooded her with nausea. She tripped on a rock, her body not as sure and strong as it had been working only for one. She almost spilled the water from the kuza, the clay pot that she carried on her shoulder.

    "Yazmina, be careful! You're walking like a donkey with three legs," Layla said, even as she struggled with her own kuza. It was almost bigger than she was. Layla had been in high spirits all morning. She was too young to be covered in a chaderi like the one Yazmina was wearing, and her dark hair shone in the sunlight.

    When they arrived at their uncle's compound, they carefully placed the kuza in the cooking room and headed back to the main house. An unfamiliar black SUV with tinted windows was parked outside, and Layla ran toward it, letting out a squeal of delight.

    "Look, Yazmina! Look at the landawar!" Layla called. "It's bigger than our house!"

    But Yazmina knew that since no one in Nuristan could afford a car like this, it must've come from the city, and nothing good ever came from the city. A car like this brought a warlord or a drug lord. When cars like this had arrived before, girls had gone missing.

    Yazmina tried to laugh with Layla, but her heart sank. Heavy beads of perspiration formed on her brow and nausea overcame her again, though this time it had more to do with her fears than with the baby growing inside her. She stood by the door of the main salon where her uncle was talking to an older man with brown teeth wearing a tan-colored shalwaar kameez. Her uncle looked panicked. He pulled a small cloth purse of money from his pocket and offered it to the man.

    "This is baksheesh," money fit for a beggar, the man said with a sneer, and struck her uncle's hand, making the purse drop to the floor.

    She couldn't hear what else was being said, but she could hear her own heartbeat and over it she imagined her uncle pleading for mercy. She leaned heavily against the wall, letting out the breath she'd been holding. She couldn't blame him for what he'd done. After last year's harsh winter, he could barely afford to feed them all. But when Yazmina's husband was killed three months before, the one she'd known since she was a child and married when she was fifteen, she and Layla had nowhere else to go. It was tradition that forced her uncle to take them in and borrow money from these thieves. She knew what was coming. He would not be able to protect her since he could not repay his debt.

    "Take my goats!" her uncle cried. "Take my house," he begged as he dropped to his knees. "But do not take Yazmina. It is as if I am selling her. Would you sell your eyes? Would you sell your heart?" He stopped for a moment to catch his breath, to think. "Besides," he continued, looking up into the cold eyes of the man looming over him, "my goats are worth more in the market than she is. She has already been married."

    "Yes, she is not a girl anymore," the...

About the Author-
  • 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. Rodriguez also owned the Oasis Salon and the Cabul Coffee House. She currently lives in Mexico.

  • Good Housekeeping

    "Charming...[a book] to warm your heart."

  • Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Kansas City Star "[A] fast-paced winner of a novel...Readers of every political stripe will find A Cup of Friendship the work of a serious artist with great powers of description at her disposal."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Rodriguez paints a vivid picture of Afghan if Maeve Binchy had written The Kite Runner."
  • Library Journal "A great book club read."
  • Publishers Weekly "A superb debut novel...Rodriguez captures place and people wholeheartedly, unveiling the faces of Afghanistan's women through a wealth of memorable characters who light up the page."
  • Booklist "With a protect and empower the women of Kabul, Rodriguez weaves her tale of life, death, and marriage...Readers will appreciate the in-depth, sensory descriptions of this oft-mentioned and faraway place that most have never seen."
  • Library Journal "Engrossing. Fans of the author's best-selling memoir, Kabul Beauty School, should be looking for this one, and other readers will quickly discover it, especially those with an interest in current events in the Middle East or for lovers of cross-cultural tales."
  • Elizabeth Willse "I loved it...Ensemble casts of characters I wish I could meet, centered around a dynamic female presence. Matter of fact love and humor. Great food and place writing."
  • San Antonio Express-News "Offers stories about the complex lives of women and the many ways their friendships transcend culture."
  • Daily Telegraph (Australia) "A brilliant story of strength and appreciation of difference that, surprisingly, restores belief in humanity."
  • Australian Women's Weekly "Rodriguez's first work of fiction hums along with humour and understanding."
  • Sunday Herald Sun (Australia) "A perfect summer read."
  • Courier Mail (Australia) "The story of these women's friendship is immensely rewarding and one that tells of a place and time where love can still change everything."
  • Woman's Day (Australia) "This warm-hearted story will make you laugh, then cry and be concerned at how some women have to live in such a dangerous country."
  • Sunday Age (Australia) "Warm and disarming."
  • Grazia (Australia) "An eye-opening and uplifting tale of sisterhood and survival."
  • Cosmopolitan "A heart-warming tale about female friendships."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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A Novel
Deborah Rodriguez
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Deborah Rodriguez
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