Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fear of Beauty-Susan Froetschel

Fear of Beauty

Susan Froetschel

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Jan 15 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781616147020

As the American military arrive in the village of Laashekoh in Helmand Province, the battered body of a child Ali is found at the bottom of a nearby cliff. Anti-American extremists arrive to take advantage of the grief by blaming the foreign invaders for the death of the oldest child of Sofi and Parsaa. Though many villagers feel the child accidently fell, some loathing the Americans hold them culpable. Parsaa wants to move on as he has four other sons; while Sofi cannot as she feels the soldiers are easy scapegoat and she needs to know for certain who the killer is.

Just outside Laashekoh in an encampment, Army Ranger Joey Peterson may have been raised by dogmatic fundamentalists, but like all of his peers, struggles with accomplishing his training assignment due to the lack of local skills and a hatred of the infidels. Daughter of a General, Ag specialist Mita Samuelson teaches Sofi to read so that she learn what really happened to her oldest son while the Afghani extremists push to kick out the enemy and force women back to their more traditional roles. They kill Peterson’s translator and kidnap Samuelson.

This is a great societal thriller that deftly rotates the lead between Peterson and Sofi. Action-packed, readers will feel they are in Helmond Province as Sofi bravely searches for the truth with Mita and Joey enabling her. However, what makes Fear of Beauty one of the top novels of the year is the moral warning that extreme preservation of a culture’s tradition can result in perverting the fundamental belief system; whether it is American, Afghani or otherwise.

Harriet Klausner

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