Book Review: A Cup Of Friendship By Deborah Rodriguez

It is fairly obvious when you read any of Deborah Rodriguez’s books that she has deep feelings for Afghanistan. She writes so eloquently, and with so much emotion that you can’t help being involved in her story immediately. After I read ‘Kabul Beauty School,’ I knew I would love anything by Rodriguez. When ‘ A Cup of Friendship’ arrived, I was thrilled. It is filled with warmth and characters you embrace, almost as though the coffee-house is your place and you have a special seat waiting for you. It is virtually impossible to not smell the coffee, the lattes, and made to order food, delightfully paired with mouth-watering sweets and cakes. I was enticed to come in and be among friends. The coffee-house becomes the catalyst for an unusual friendship between five wonderful women, If I want to compare – and it’s unfair of me to do so – its message is stronger than ‘The Friday Night Knitting Club’ and yet reminiscent of how easily I became a part of that knitting club when I read the book. Besides, how do you not engage with a book that is about strong women, boundless love, heroism and culture steeped in religion with societal rules that have been smoothly twisted to suit the largely male dominated society. I identified with many of the book’s characters for different reasons…

Sunny is a lovely American woman who has left her home in search of something or someone, unsure of what, she eventually finds her place in Kabul as owner of a warmly inviting coffee-house in the middle of a war zone. She is fairly proud of how it thrives in spite of the climate outside and asks no questions of its patrons. Therefore, the coffee-house welcomes plenty of suspicious locals, well-to do folk as well as the expatriate community, anyone else who wants good food, company or to maybe watch a soccer game and be with friends can come in as often as they like. The coffee- house is quite literally Sunny’s home. She takes in anyone who melts her heart, and fights for their rights as she herself waits for her Tommy, to come back to her, from doing whatever it is he does. Tommy selfishly leaves whenever he chooses and sails right back into Sunny’s life expecting her to drop everything to be with him. Which, it suddenly dawns on Sunny, as not so great an arrangement. I love how passionate Sunny’s character is. Into this mix comes the beautiful but traumatized Yazmina whose beautiful eyes capture anyone who dares to look at her, behind her veil lies her secret and her story breaks your heart. There is Ahmet, Sunny’s security man, body-guard to all, straight-laced and Koran read, constantly battling with himself to give up some of his most traditional religious ideas in favor of what is right – He grows on you, so keep reading. There is the unconventional but maternal Halajan – who supports Sunny in everything, except her desire to help Yazmina. Halajan, who is also the mother of Ahmet, remembers what it was like under Taliban rule and within her heart lies the fear that Kabul is gradually going back to the Taliban way of life. She has a secret romance that she tries very hard to keep from her traditional son, for their culture suggests that the son rules the house, his mother, sister or any woman in his family if there is no husband. There is Bashir Hadi who cooks for Sunny’s café and looks after her well-being. His paternal instincts are always spot on. He is often treated badly by customers for he is lower in caste, ( a caste system still exists in many parts of the world) yet none of that matters to Sunny. Jack is Sunny’s friend, they have a fabulous friendship and a deep understanding. Their chemistry is undeniable. I kept wanting the author to delve into a relationship but Jack has a family back in Michigan, making it very difficult for the two of them to take their relationship any further. We also meet Isabel, a British journalist on a mission to expose a very risky trade that is merciless to its victims, and finally, there is Candace, an extremely wealthy, vain and spoiled woman who risks stability for desire, in the end, she stands to lose everything including her dignity.

I love how the combined strength of these women make the story what it is. I was involved from the beginning and the characters didn’t really let me down, oh (maybe) except Candace occasionally. She proves herself in the end and it does leave for quite a few surprises. Not only is this book visually stunning, it is smart and funny. If you read this, you will love ‘Kabul Beauty School- a memoir.’ I hope you read both. They are truly lovely.



  1. Sounds like a fascinating story. You describe each of the characters quite vividly that it makes me want to read more. Actually, the way you tell it, made me see it in movie form. Feels like it could make quite a good one.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. I loved how the author described Kabul, I felt like I walked the streets and I was at that coffee house – amazing. Thank you so much for saying my description made you wanted to read the book. I would love to hear what you think.


  2. Sanjee says:

    Monicastangledweb is correct – you do have a way of describing the characters and the plot that makes one want to run out and buy the book – which, incidentally, I have done!! 🙂 This is a non-fiction, yes? Not usually my cup of tea (no pun intended, although she does serve coffee), but I will be checking it out.

    Thanks for review! 🙂


    1. Oooooh thank you! thank you! – you are too kind. This book is Fiction but Kabul Beauty School isn’t. I never expected to like Kabul Beauty school as it is more a memoir, it is lovely though. I’m so glad you bought the book – 🙂


  3. tita buds says:

    I thought about reading Kabul Beauty School sometime ago but never got around to it for some reason. But this wonderful review of “Cup” now makes me want to get both asap. 🙂 Oh, and Pope Joan, too, which has been on my to-read list for a loong time.


    1. A Cup… is such a wonderful book, makes you feel warm and happy but also makes you take womens’ issues seriously. I’m about to review Pope Joan 🙂
      Hmmm, that was such an eye opener. Can’t wait for you to read and tell me what you think.


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