Fear of Beauty

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Press: Seventh Street Books (January 15, 2013)
Publication Date:2013-1
Author Name:Froetschel, Susan


The battered body of an Afghan boy is found at the base of a cliff outside a remote village in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. 
Did he fall as most of the villagers think? Or is this the work of American soldiers, as others want to believe? Not far from the village, the US Army has set up a training outpost.
Sofi, the boy's illiterate young mother, is desperate to find the truth about her son's death.
But extremists move in and offer to roust the "infidels" from the region, adding new pressures and restrictions for the small village and its women.
We hear two sides of this story.
One is Sofi's.
The other is that of US Army Special Ranger Joey Pearson, who is in this faraway place to escape a rough childhood and rigidly fundamentalist parents.
In time, and defying all odds, Sofi secretly learns to read--with the help of Mita Samuelson, an American aid worker.
Through reading, the Afghan woman develops her own interpretation of how to live the good life while discovering the identity of her son's murderer and the extremists' real purpose in her village.  As they search for answers, Sofi, Joey, and Mita come to the same realization: in each of their separate cultures the urge to preserve a way of life can lead to a fundamentalism that destroys a society's basic values.

About the Author

Susan Froetschel is the author of four previous novels—Fear of Beauty (named top mystery/suspense by the Military Writers Society of America and nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award), Alaska Gray, Interruptions, and Royal Escape. She has taught at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University. 
She lives in Michigan and is currently an editor with YaleGlobal Online at Yale University's MacMillan Center for International Studies.


Literature & Fiction,Genre Fiction,Historical,Cultural Heritage,Mystery, Thriller & Suspense,Thrillers & Suspense,Military,Suspense

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Comment List (Total:14)

  •     This was one of the best books I've read in the last year. Froetschel's descriptions of Afganistan are outstanding.
  •     Once again Froetschel's meticulous research and journalist's curiosity brings a personal story behind the news to life. Right from the start I felt I knew these characters, and I wanted to know more. Without giving it away, I was thankful for the ending, as well as the suspense that kept me reading all night. The complexity of family life in a dangerous place is vivid in this story, as it brings compassion for all caught by an accident of birth in a war zone. As a librarian, I applaud the lengths the author went to in reminding us reading is the basis for understanding.
  •     Fear of Beauty is set in Afghanistan. The son of an Afghan woman dies and sets in motion a tale of intrigue. Villagers blame the death on the Americans, while the Americans blame it on the villagers, and tensions increase. Sofi, being very shrewd, follows her gut and searches for the truth.Susan Froetschel describes a multitude of things, especially the limited life of an Afghan woman, with details many here in the US are not aware. Not only are women prohibited from appearing in public, but a widespread lack of education means women have no economic opportunities. Most Afghan women are illiterate, hidden and isolated. Sofi defies the Afghan culture, learns English, and takes matters into her own hands - this is extremely rare and shows a lot of perseverance, which Froetschel portrays beautifully. You find yourself rooting for Sofi and admiring her strength. In fact, I personally like Sofi's point of view in the book.The story keeps a reader wanting for more, and the author does an excellent job of reeling you in. You desire to find out who killed Sofi's son and how the book will end. You can't put this excellent read down!
  •     Really enjoyed Book.
  •     I had the privilege of serving as the moderator of a panel at this year's Malice Domestic fan convention (May, 2013) that featured Susan Froetschel and FEAR OF BEAUTY.
  •     The true test of the modern socio political theme in Fear of Beauty is the feeling one gets that not only an American can empathize with the portrayal of the Afghans in the book,...
  •     This is a beautiful story with incredible insight into the simple, hard-working life of the Afghan villagers, especially Sofi.
  •     In reading this well-written novel I've gained a more nuanced understanding of the Afghan culture--particularly of the women and their families--than from years of listening to...
  •     It's always a pleasure to find a book that both entertains and educates. Froetschel set a difficult task for herself: telling story that required various voices, cultures, and religions. The heroine of the novel, Sofi, a hard-working wife and mother in a rural Afghan village, follows her own instincts as she treads a dangerous path toward discovery. Who killed her oldest son? In her search,.Sofi learns sometimes seductive, sometimes painful, but always enlightening truths about herself and the world around her.
  •     A good novel, interspersed with philosophy and spiritual principles. Principles from the Koran help the reader compare and understand their own values and religious or spiritual...
  •     One of the best compliments a book can receive is to say that the story transports the reader to another place.
  •     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
  •     I really liked this book until the author inserted romance between two characters that just didn't fit with the story. It was unnecessary and took away from the thoughtful story being told. It felt forced and like she felt she had to throw it in ........ If I ignore that, I really liked the story and how she portrayed the characters, their thoughts, emotions etc. However, I would not recommend the book as I was so disappointed in how that was casually inserted for no good literary reason. Given the story line, I doubt anyone looking for a romance novel would pick up this book.
  •     Interesting book. Particularly liked the description of life in the village. Felt the story was a little hokey. Quick read.

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