The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Afghan-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
Silver Wings by H.P. Munro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When in 1943, twenty-five-year-old Lily Rivera is widowed, she finally feels able to step out of the shadows of an unhappy marriage. Her love of flying leads her to join the Womens Airforce Service Pilots, determined to regain her passion and spread her wings, not suspecting that she would experience more than just flying.Helen Richmond, a Hollywood stunt pilot, has never experienced a love that lifted her as high as the aircraft she flew…until she meets Lily.
Both women join the W.A.S.P. program to serve their country and instead find that they are on a collision course towards each other, but can it last?
This is a great book. I love historical fiction and it is even better when it contains a sweet, lesbian romance.
The author has clearly done her research and it is well written, with likeable characters and believable scenarios. The way the WASPs (Womens Airforce Service Pilots) were treated during the war was quite shameful.
I would definitely read more of Ms. Munro’s work.
Galveston 1900: Swept Away by Linda Crist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
On September 7-8, 1900, the island of Galveston, Texas, was destroyed by a hurricane, or “tropical cyclone,” as it was called in those days. This story is a fictional account of Mattie and Rachel, two women who lived there, and their lives in the months leading up to and during the time of the “great storm.”
Forced to flee from her family at a young age, Rachel Travis finds a home and livelihood on the island of Galveston. Independent, friendly, and yet often lonely, only one other person knows the dark secret that haunts her. That is until she meets Madeline Crockett.
Madeline “Mattie” Crockett is trapped in a loveless marriage, convinced that her fate is sealed. She never dares to dream of true happiness, until Rachel Travis comes walking into her life. As emotions come to light, the storm of Mattie’s marriage converges with the very real hurricane. Can they survive, and build the life they both dream of?
I absolutely loved this book.
I love historical fiction, especially if is about an event or era that is new to me and I have to admit that I knew absolutely nothing about Galveston or its storm of 1900.
Historical fiction with a lesbian romance is even better and I loved Mattie and Rachel and their slowly developing relationship. The secondary characters were all good too and their work and daily lives were well fleshed out and interesting.
Obviously, being set against the backdrop of a hurricane, there is plenty of heartbreak and some beloved, and not so beloved, characters do not make it.
There is information online about the actual storm and looking at the pictures of the devastation, I am surprised that anyone survived at all.