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If Zeba had been a woman less ordinary, Kamal might have seen it coming – a gnawing feeling or at least a few hairs standing on end. But she gave him no warning, no reason to believe that she would be anything more than she had been for the last two decades. She was a loving wife, a patient mother, a peaceful villager. She did nothing to draw to attention to herself. But now, nothing would be ordinary again.

Zeba, an ordinary Afghan housewife and mother of four, has been arrested for murder after her husband, Kamal is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts when he met his end. Her children swear their mother couldn't have done it. Kamal's family is sure she did and demand justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, the ordinary Afghan housewife winds up in a women's prison awaiting trial. There she meets a group of other women whose paths have led them to the same bleak cells: 18 year old Nafisa, caught sharing a meal with a teenage boy, imprisoned to protect her from the "honor killing" her father demands, 25 year old Latifa, a teen runaway in a leather jacket who first landed in prison for vagrancy but has stayed because it offers better shelter than the world outside, 20 year old Mezghan, pregnant with her lover's child, awaiting a court order that will force him to marry her. The younger women all wonder if Zeba really is a cold-blooded killer, or if her husband somehow deserved his fate, or if, like them, she's been imprisoned for transgressing some rule of society without actually breaking a law. For them, prison is as much a haven as a punishment and the sisterhood they form inside is as lively and unexpected as the world outside is harsh and unforgiving.

Yusuf is the lawyer assigned to represent Zeba. Born in Kabul, his family fled Afghanistan when he was 11,eventually landing in Queens, where he worked his way through college and then law school. A passion for human rights and a desire to help his beloved homeland, sends him back to Afghanistan, hoping to help patch together a functioning legal system after the fall of the Taliban. Now the fate of an accused murderer-a seemingly ordinary housewife--is in his hands and Yusuf is discovering that, like the Afghanistan he thought he knew, Zeba and her story may not be at all what he expected.

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