WHAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
Unbridled Books will make the eBook of What Changes Everything available one month early, on April 25. For every eBook of that novel sold, Unbridled will donate $1 in support of the important work at the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP).
After Todd Barbery, director of a humanitarian organization working with refugees, is assaulted and kidnapped on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan nothing remains the same. How could it?
What Changes Everything is the story of Todd’s wife, Clarissa, who tries to save her husband, while her own life spins out of control in the dark nights of Brooklyn. There on the night streets, she meets Danil, an angry New York graffiti artist whose life was derailed by a loss in the same incomprehensible war half a world away. Danil’s mother Stela writes letter after letter from her bookstore in Cleveland in hopes of comprehending the loss of one son on an Afghan battlefield and of reconnecting with Danil, who abandoned her in anger when his brother died. This is also the story of Mandy, a mother from Texas, grappling with the fury of a wounded son who barely made it home from that war. And it’s Todd’s story, too, who for only a moment let down his guard in a Kabul marketplace and now confronts the worst of possibilities.
But, remarkably, What Changes Everything also tells another story: the true story of Mohammad Najibullah, the last president of Afghanistan during the Communist era, whose fall from power was made final by the arrival of the Taliban. The letters in this novel from Najibullah to his three daughters are imagined, but the author had the privilege of lengthy exchanges with one of them, who shared recollections of her father—and a poem her mother had written about him.
In this knowing new book, Masha Hamilton braids the lives of all these characters, real and imagined, into a powerful novel about the grace of human connections in a world that is so often too harsh and dangerous to face alone.
$25.00 / $26.00 CAN | Fiction Hardcover | 6x9 | 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60953-091-4 | Carton Quantity: 24
In the narrow strand of space between the first piece of information and all the rest, thoughts rushed through Clarissa that could not be said aloud, not then, probably not ever. They came like the violent Nor’easters she’d known as a child in Maine, appearing without warning as she’d disconnected the phone for the third time in quick succession.
How could he have let this happen?
The initial call came from a reporter, and Clarissa hung up mid-sentence, telling herself there’d been a mistake.
He’d tricked her, Todd had. Tricked her into trusting him, even though she knew life was delicate beyond belief, and humans were flimsy, including those who seemed invincible.
The second call came from Bill Snyder, who opened by barely speaking at all, as if to prolong her last moments of unknowing, and then began carefully, each word padded by pauses, each phrase couched in ambiguity. She hung up on him also, but with less confidence.
Everything one counted on could vanish in a second; she’d understood that since childhood. A new narration wiping out personal history without a whisper of remorse. That’s why, at base, she’d never married before. Been too smart for marriage.
The final call came from a baldly definitive FBI agent, speaking in a clipped but almost tender tone as she thought in stunned amazement, “The FBI, how odd is this?” She had no memory of hanging up on him, only of noticing at one point that she no longer pressed the receiver to her ear.
Why had she let herself willfully block out this transiency, fall in love, remake the boundaries of her life, and then redefine what it meant to trust the world? Because even as she’d worried aloud, she’d secretly relied on the conviction that he would stay safe.