The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

One little cafe. 
Five extraordinary women. 

The blurb

In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together. 

Sunny, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her cafe and her customers safe. 

Yasmina, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets. 

Isabel, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. 

Candace, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil. 

And Halajan, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules. 

As these five women discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others. 

Becca's thoughts

I'll be honest with you, it got to a point with this book where I was going to mark my place in the story and pick it back up another day. It didn't keep me hooked the way I love a story to do so, there was no pull for me to keep on reading and I could easily put this down and not pick it up again for a while. 

I purchased this book from my local Waterstones store because I'd heard so many great things about it, and besides it not having any pulling power with me, I must admit, the settings in this story are absolutely beautiful. 

Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, we get to meet five women from completely different walks of life. Sunny is the owner of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. I adored Sunny. She was straight-talking, down to earth and so easy to love. Throughout the story, we're beside Sunny as she experiences her love for a man grow and blossom into something beautiful. Yasmina is the beautiful young woman who is taken from her Uncle's home as payment for a debt that he is unable to pay. Fortunately for Yasmina, she somehow manages to find Sunny and is taken to The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, where she begins to work and live. Yasmina has a secret, and this secret cannot be hidden for much longer. With every passing day, you start to feel the panic rising, as does Yasmina, as she begins to realise that every secret becomes uncovered at some point, no matter how hard you attempt to hide it. Yasmina is a gorgeous young woman is unwillingly sent away from her family home, and my heart genuinely broke for her. She's full of emotion and I really enjoyed revelling in knowing her secret when other characters did not. Isabel is a journalist who comes to Kabul to gather information and stories regarding the treatment of women in the crumbling, increasingly dangerous area. Isabel comes to know the rest of the women of the coffee shop, and between them a wonderful, heart warming friendship grows. Candace is a beautiful, striking American woman who has finally left her husband and met Wakil. Wakil isn't everything that Candace believes him to be though. She's rather like a movie star, very glamorous, and kind of spoilt in her own way. But she's adorable, and I found it hard not to like her. My favourite character of all though, and the wisest, was Halajan. Halajan is known in the story as the den mother. She is full of wisdom and motherly advice and tends to take care of everyone who becomes a regular visitor to the coffee house. Just like the other women, Halajan has a few secrets of her own too. I LOVED this woman - she made me laugh so much, and she's just so full of surprises. Not at all like what you'd expect of her. 

As the characters come together in the story, you can't help but feel surrounded by a feeling of warmth and sincerity. The women bond and become close friends, and the story kind of unfolds around their friendship. They stick together through thick and thin, and keep each other safe. It's very endearing to read about. 

As I mentioned earlier, there is so much focus on the settings in this story, I could genuinely imagine the images that the author was describing perfectly in my mind. As the story really starts to get going, you realise that Kabul is actually in the middle of a war scene. Bombs going off almost every day, buildings being blow apart, ambulances zooming through the streets with the sirens blaring. It comes across as a complete scene of devastation. What was amazing was the contrast between the atmosphere in the coffee house to the scene outside of the coffee house walls. Outside is dangerous, thieves and rapists and drug lords lurking in the dark corners. Whereas in the coffee house, everything is lovely and warm and glowing. It's just so interesting to read about the differences. You come to realise that the coffee house actually provides a safe place for not only it's few occupants, but for the regular visitors too. It provides a friendly atmosphere compared to the crazy world outside. It is just superb. 

Although I found it hard to keep picking it up, once the story really got going I began enjoying it again, which I'm thankful for. Although I won't be rating The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul with the highest mark, I will say it's story rich in culture and vibrancy, bringing Kabul to life right there on the pages. There's plenty of focus directed onto the foods and the drinks, also the smells and the sights. It was a delight to my sense, if you know what I mean. 

I'd recommend this book to anybody who loves a story about females sticking together, friendship and love. There's lots of secrets, lots of "breaking the rules" and lots of smiles. It was generally a pleasant read. 

I'll be giving The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul a rating of 7/10 stars!
Although it was an enjoyable read, it's probably not one that I would read again. The settings were amazing though, and if you're a person who likes to read more about the settings and the imagery then this would be PERFECT for you. 

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