It's been a while since I've talked about a favourite book of mine, but one that really left an impact on me a few years back was My Forbidden Face, by Latifa. It's the autobiography of a 16-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban.
From the back cover: Latifa was born in Kabul in 1980, into an educated middle-class Afghan family, at once liberal and religious. As a teenager, she was interested in fashion and cinema and going out with her friends, and she longed to become a journalist. Her mother, a doctor and her father, a businessman, encouraged her dreams.
Then in 1996, the Taliban seized power. From that moment, Latifa, 16-years-old, became a prisoner in her own home. Her school was closed; her mother was banned from working. The simplest ad most basic freedoms - walking down the street, looking out of a window - were no longer hers. She was now forced to cover herself entirely with a burqa.
With painful honesty and clarity, Latifa describes the way her world fell apart in the name of a fanatical interpretation of a faith. Her story goes to the heart of a people caught up in a terrible tragedy in a brutalised country. But Latifa is determined to survive - and live in freedom and hope.
Latifa is the same age as I am and I remember just being absolutely transfixed as to how completely different her life is to mine. I was fascinated to read about her experiences - both pleasant and unpleasant - and finished the book in awe of this woman with such a strong spirit and character.