Review: The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A Novel

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A NovelAfghan-American Nadia Hashimi’s literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

Wow! What an amazing book: heart-breaking but ultimately up lifting. Fiction, but based in reality.

I had never heard of the bacha posh in Afghanistan and was quite surprised to learn about it. The story was well written and the characters in both time lines were engaging and realistic. I loved how their stories wove together.

I feel so privileged to have been born in a secular, western country in the late twentieth century and hope someday all people have the freedom to do and be whatever they want.

You can find out more information about real women who were bacha posh on the author’s website and also at bachaposh.com

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Review: Trail of Broken Wings

Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Trail of Broken WingsWhen her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

A heart-rending but ultimately uplifting book about one family’s struggle to come to terms with the years of abuse they suffered at the hands of the patriarch. I found it hard to put down.
I liked how the women gradually opened up to each other although I found myself thinking: “For goodness sake, just talk to each other!” quite a few times.
The book changed POV quite frequently and I was impressed that each woman had a distinct voice.