Lifting the Chaderi by Anisa Mahmoud Ulrich is the autobiography of an Afghani woman’s life and journey. Anisa chronicles her life from childhood in Kabul, Afghanistan to her present day life in America. Her narration includes personal stories and family background that delves deep into family dynamics, personalities and troubles. Anisa does not mince words and includes painful memories and personal struggles along with details of her surroundings.
When the decision is made to leave Afghanistan in the 1970s, the book shifts to the struggles of a refugee. Anisa leaves with her brother and sister in law and their children to get into Pakistan and then eventually make their way overseas. They are met with thieves, long, terrible walks and shady smugglers yet they eventually make it to safety. Anisa is clear with her memories and her emotions are powerful during this trip. It made me stop for more than a moment and reminded me to not waste time on worrying about the little things when so many people are enduring much worse.
Life in America holds more education and new beginnings for Anisa, who works in nursing and meets a husband. The marriage is not a healthy one, but it produces two children and allows room for growth as she makes an important choice to start over again and eventually leave and finally find love.
I enjoyed how the book was chronicled, and even though at times I did feel like I was reading a diary, there was so much going on that covered decades of events, but I never once was lost or distracted. The cultural elements she included were also interesting because often times we do not stop to think or wonder how the rest of the world lives and thinks.
On Anisa’s return to Kabul in 2005, it was clear to her how much her life Erin had changed for the better, even though she was without the family she left behind. The book is a powerful and detailed read about a woman who forged ahead and succeeded even when it seemed it would never be possible.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Anisa Ulrich. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.