Afghan's Lipstick Warriors

First Chronicle

Fiction - Womens
432 Pages
Reviewed on 09/20/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Afghan's Lipstick Warriors is written by author Gary Paul Corcoran. The lipstick warriors are a band of Afghan women who decide to do what their Afghan husbands and brothers won’t when it comes to standing up to the Taliban. On seeing the US withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, this group of ten courageous women knows what’s in their future, not if, but when the Taliban regain control. Someone has to do something, and these women are prepared to fight to the death rather than once again become slaves to brutal men. The women set up a boot camp in a secluded area and train their female warriors to use AK 47s, RPGs, and technology to meet the Taliban head-on. Saarah, whose dreams of a bright future are crushed when a Taliban leader wants to marry her and subsequently kills her father, becomes a sniper…and a good one. But of course, it will take more than a 10-woman warrior band to defeat hundreds of blood-thirsty Taliban soldiers. The women get some covert help from the US military and undercover CIA agents, and there are heartaches and losses along the way. While these lipstick warriors cannot win the war alone, they certainly win plenty of battles and show men that they are far more than pretty faces bristling with anger behind their burkas.

“You know, this has blockbuster movie written all over it,” says a fictional reporter in Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors. Perhaps it was an unintended suggestion, but Corcoran supplied the most accurate assessment of his novel in that statement. It was impossible to read about Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors without envisioning it on the big screen, thanks to its provocative and timely political plot and captivating characters. Corcoran’s book is fiction, but it’s based on a real and horrific situation. Corcoran says in his author’s foreword that he decided to write this book in spring 2021 as US troops began the withdrawal because: “In the ongoing struggle to build a free, fair, and democratic Afghan society, women will be the ones to suffer most if the Taliban can retake power.” While Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors may not directly affect what will happen in that war-torn country, Corcoran’s poignant novel raises our awareness and gives those who care some hope. After all, as Corcoran states: “A tiger is only tamed for so long as it accepts the whip.”

K.C. Finn

Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors: First Chronicle is a work of fiction in the drama genre. It is suitable for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Gary Paul Corcoran. The book follows Saarah, a young woman living in the Hindu Kush who ran from home when the Taliban invaded. With her father dead and forced marriage to a warlord awaiting her if she returns, Saarah joins a group of women warriors to fight back instead. As they gain infamy for their resistance, the CIA begins supporting them whilst the State and the Taliban stage a devastating counterattack.

Afghan's Lipstick Warriors is a work of fiction that follows the journey of Saarah Khalil as she flees for her life in search of a better future. One of the things that I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the unwavering message of hope and positivity despite the emotional and tragic backdrop. Protagonist Saarah deals with some intense and emotional issues and feelings throughout the story. Still, this book's overall lesson is that these issues can be worked through, and you can move on regardless of where you come from. Author Gary Paul Corcoran delivers a cast of fully realized characters who have depth and flaws, making them highly engaging characters to follow. Reading this novel was a humbling and inspirational experience focused on survival and hope in the face of adversity - and a lesson that redemption is always possible. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Afghan's Lipstick Warriors to fans of women's fiction and those looking for a read that will take them on an emotional journey alongside the characters.

Grant Leishman

Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors: First Chronicle by Gary Paul Corcoran is a bittersweet tale of survival, struggle, and heroism infused with a solid dose of hope and a pinch of romance. Deep in the Afghan hinterland, Saarah Khalil dreams of a life of contentment and success after she has graduated from high school and attended college, where she has already earned a scholarship. With news filtering through that the Americans may well be pulling out of Afghanistan, her idyllic existence is about to come to an end, with the Taliban and their archaic, conservative-Muslim views on life and especially on women’s role in society, about to take over their village and potentially the entire country. Bartered by her father, in an effort to save the village from destruction, to become the wife of a Taliban leader, Saarah makes a daring escape from the village, fleeing to an international women’s shelter in Kabul. Whilst there, she learns that her father has been murdered by the Taliban for allowing her to escape and after she meets a fellow runaway, she realizes if her country is ever to be free from this pernicious evil, ordinary Afghans, including the women, must rise up against them and reclaim their land and the life of freedom they so desperately desire and deserve. Linking up with some Kurdish rebels from Iraq, Saraah and her fellow “lipstick warriors” will soon find themselves in a desperate battle against not only the hated Taliban but also the apathy of the rest of the world, who seem determined to leave the Afghan people to their fate.

Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors: First Chronicle is a deeply moving and at times tragic tale that so presciently outlines the current situation that faces the Afghan people, as the Americans do indeed begin their long-promised withdrawal from the country. In Saarah, he has created a lead character that is everything one would expect of a fighting “warrior princess”, who, along with her comrades, is brave and strong. She is also realistic of her fate but is determined that if she will die, she will die fighting bravely for her country and her people. I particularly liked the counterpoint of “official government policy” promulgated and promoted by people who had probably never been inside Afghanistan and that of those on the ground, who deeply understood the aspirations and desires of the majority of Afghans and saw the rise of the resistance to the Taliban as a triumph and one the Americans should be not only encouraging but indeed materially supporting. I also enjoyed the camaraderie and loyalty that developed between the women warriors, despite them coming from such disparate backgrounds and their underlying, simmering clan differences that lay just beneath the surface. That they were able to put those long-standing enmities behind them and join forces to fight a common evil was a real highlight of the story for me. This is a fantastic and chilling read that could just as easily have come from the pages of the New York Times as from a novel. Given this is the “first chronicle”, I await the next installment with both excitement and trepidation, especially given the current news coming out of Afghanistan. This book is an absolute triumph in my opinion and I can highly recommend it.