Book Review: Farewell, Four Waters

11 Dec

412060Day 14: It should have been the beginning . . .

All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her home town, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read.

But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Just blocks from the guesthouse. Sending shockwaves through the community.

The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Marie’s closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning.

When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.

And in the end . . .

It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her community – all of it – to evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?


Kate McCord, a protective pseudonym, lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. During her years in country, she worked as a humanitarian aid worker, delivering projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She also learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. After evacuating from her home in Afghanistan, Kate transitioned into a mentoring, training, consulting and coaching role to other workers serving in the region. Prior to moving to Afghanistan, she worked in the international corporate community as a business process and strategy consultant. Today, Kate serves Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring and conducting workshops and seminars.


My Impressions:

Farewell, Four Waters is an intense and personal look into the life of an aid worker in Afghanistan. Kate McCord combines her in depth knowledge with deep emotion to produce a book anyone who is interested in God’s work overseas should read. This book will hold your interest as you join with the main character to fulfill God’s commands to love Him and her neighbor.

Marie has been an aid worker in Afghanistan for over 5 years. She has come to love the people and the country and embraces both as her family and home. But another aid worker is targeted for murder and things change. Marie must balance her care and love for the women in her town with the distrust she must have to keep herself safe.

Farewell, Four Waters explores the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll that working in a foreign country puts on aid workers and missionaries. In Afghanistan, there is another level of security that other workers may not experience. The characters must maintain a hyper-vigilance that seems counter to the work that they are trying to accomplish. The book also offers a unique and personal look at women in Afghanistan. Complex, smart and capable, these women are cloistered and treated like children by the men. Even young boys are deemed more capable in keeping women safe than themselves. During Marie’s visits to the literacy classes she establishes, she attempts to bridge the gulf of culture. Western culture is as incomprehensible to the Afghan women as their’s is to us. But one truth remains — these are people that God loves and calls us to love as well.

I enjoyed Farewell, Four Waters. There was a tension that began in the opening pages and continued to ramp up to the very end. Marie was a difficult character, yet all the more real for it. Her fears, loneliness, grief and faith in God are very real. And best of all, the book is based on real events and people, giving it an accuracy that may not be present in other fictional accounts. This book is a good choice for a book club — a lot of topics to spark conversation.


Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: older teens to adults.

(Thanks to Side Door Communications and River North for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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