The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Title: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Genre: History/Biography

About: (Goodreads)  The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings.

My thoughts: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book is one of the most inspirational I’ve read in quite some time.  She tells the story of Kamila Sediqi – a young woman who rose to the occasion when her father left the family in her care because he,her mother and brother had to flee Kabul after the Taliban invasion in the 1990s.

After some time had passed the need to buy food and other necessities prompted Kamila to find a way to earn money.  She went to her older, married sister who taught her how to sew.  From those lessons grew a cottage industry that employed many girls from her neighborhood. By teaching the girls to cut fabric, sew, bead, etc. she helped them gain confidence and self-esteem as well as a way to earn money to help support their families. Kamila risked her safety anytime she would go to the market where she bought fabric and sold finished garments. She couldn’t go out in public without her younger brother (a Taliban rule) and she had to wear the required chadri (burqa). She had faith that God would take care of her. That faith carried her through some very distressing times.

I was continually impressed by the courage and optimism displayed by all of the young people portrayed in this book. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a biography that reads like a novel.  It’s a compelling story of the power of the human spirit during impossible times.

I appreciated that the author included an epilogue and a Where Are They Today chapter.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Recommend? Yes, it’s an uplifting and inspirational story.

Source: HarperCollins

20 thoughts on “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

  1. This looks like a wonderful read, it just skyrocketed to the top of my TBR pile… I suppose I should make a second “will be read” pile because my TBR pile is just getting out of control! Great review!


  2. Thank you for your comments on “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” and for your most thoughtful review. Telling this story has been a labor of love for me and it means a great deal to see readers connect with this story of unsung heroines and unlikely entrepreneurs. PLease send your book club comments and questions anytime to me at
    Warm regards and my best,
    Gayle Tzemach Lemmon


  3. I’ve been given a gift certificate for books and had a hard time deciding what to get. After reading this review I’m going to see if I can redeem my prize for this read.

    You make me want it NOW!


  4. I like that the author is a serious journalist – it definitely lends additional credibility to the book. Katie Couric recently raved about it – good to see you liked it too!


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