Afghan American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut 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-aunt Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.
Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shellinterweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?
©2014 Nadia Hashimi (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I found this gem in a list of suggestions for the best books of the year. I couldn't agree more, for this is one of the best books I have listened to in a very long time. Do not be intimidated with the faraway names of the cast. You will easily be able to follow the stories of these women and feel blessed for having heard them.
The story begins with nine year old Rahima, the middle of five daughters in a family living in Kabul Afghanistan in 2009. To enable the family, her mother makes her a bache posh (to live and dress as a boy through adolescence). Rahima life is overnight vastly elevated. The freedom of being male permits her to perform chores outside the home. But imagine the inevitable reverse transformation. During visits their beloved disabled aunt shares tales of the life of their ancestor, Khala Shaima that also lived in Kabul, but in the early 1900’s. In alternating chapters we follow the women through twenty years of remarkable struggles of endurance and survival. The voice of the great, great grandmother’s gives hope and encouragement to push her granddaughter through her similar strife, a century later.
Each woman’s story is the depth of emotional highs and lows. You will hold your breath and your heart will beat faster repeatedly for their lives are constantly in peril. Reading this work puts ones ‘personal stresses’ in perspective. It is amazing that in the one hundred years separating these women the oppression is relatively unchanged. Further interesting, to me, is regardless of the land or the century, the ruthless disregard for compassion that women have for one another.
Nadia Hashimi is just masterful at weaving unimaginable tales in a clear manner while detailing an immense amount of tradition and rules. Hard to believe this is a debut novel. Gin Hammond’s narration is flawless in transparent execution.
Yes I would. This audiobook has so much to offer in terms of engaging the listener and creating images in the mind that stir the heart.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Both authors weave multiple stories within the story and show how other cultures live, love, and believe. The social fabrics are so well presented in these two novels yet speak volumes as to the underlying truth. Different from us in America, yet utterly human and with the same emotions and desires.
Well, her narrative style was superlative. Although she doesn't have the masculine voice timber, her style made the male characters believable anyhow and gave them depth. I think just reading the book wouldn't have been nearly as visceral as her narrative provided.
Follow your heart.
I hated for the story to end. I'll probably listen again and it'll be all fresh and new and wonderful once more. Excellent story and great writing.
Powerful, compelling. What a good read. It always grieves me to see how people in other countries are treated and this book as no exception. What these women go through is absolutely horrifying. I have read several books of this type and have to say that I think the author did a great job with this book. She gave a unique perspective by having one of the girls be a bacha posh and then showing her life after that time as well as the lives of others in Afghan. So thankful that I live in the USA and we don’t have to face things like this today.
Lawyer, reader, writer, performer. Just love listening to books and talking about it!
Another excellent surprise. This started out a little rough for me, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. It is a book with huge scope covering the lives of two women in Afghanistan, this will first make you curious and then begin tugging on your heart strings from a powerful new (old) perspective, that of the imprisoned and disenfranchised women. Shall we not guard or own freedoms with all of our being? In what ways do we need to break out of our shells?
Also, this book really brings home the very limited world view that so many trapped women have and why. It's so hard for me to fathom. I'm so thankful for my life, and I'll learn about the issues and exercise my right to vote every single time. I can't help but wonder -- if push came to shove, would we be as brave as these women?
I loved the way I was drawn in to the experience of women in Afghanistan. Having grown up in the Middle East, I was curious as to how women were being treated in a very traditional Muslim country that has been at war for so very long. Nadia Hashimi has an amazing talent for showing the gamet of life of women in her home country.
When Shaqiba and her father buried their family. She and her father were very much alike. They truly were the image of Afghanistan.
at the end, When Rahima changed into boy's clothing and left for the Women's Shelter. I could feel the exhilaration and the fear within her. I felt so proud of her.
I cried when Rahima's son died with her and when her husband beat her, every time.
Ms Hashimi is a gifted writer. I hope this only the first of many excellent novels!
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I count on books to give me a glimpse of what life is like for other people in environments that are completely different from mine. Settling in with this one, I hoped to get something really insightful about women in Afghanistan. Through the tale of the two main characters, I think I have a better understanding of day-to-day life and the control placed on women. Culturally, it's eye-opening. That's all good - particularly if it's new turf for the reader. My issue had more to do with the writing and the narration.
I hate saying anything negative about an author's first book. But in this particular book, the dialogue feels so stilted that I have to comment on it. I'm not sure if it's an accurate look at the kinds of conversations people have or a flaw in the writing. I just know that sometimes I felt like I was listening to a YA. It felt choppy and was narrated in a way that exaggerated it.
This book will likely be on every book club's reading list for 2015. If it brings awareness, then it has done its job. Though the writing isn't nearly as graceful as I'd hoped, it is very functional. It's a book I liked - but could not love.
Wonderful sad and happy story of women in Afghanistan now and in parallel- contemporary and early 1900's. Parallel stores of young girl/woman and of her great-great-grandmother. Beautifully told.
One Sunday morning, while driving my car, I heard an interview with the author on NPR. I quickly pulled to the side of the road and ordered the book from Audible. I'm glad I did. A great book.
Fascinating story of life people and politics in a distant land, shockingly relevant here and now.
Gin Hammond's reading enhanced my enjoyment thanks to her excellent pronunciation and ability to capture the nuances of each individual character. I recommend the audio version of the book because of Hammond's reading.
I could listen in one sitting, but I savored the story and looked forward to each reading.
This is my first review on Audible. I had to write because it is such a good story and so well told.
I would listen to the book again, but I'm glad that I listened to it the first time. I'm still shocked by the horrible way that the Afghani men can treat their wives and women in general. But yet the wives have no voice and are presumed guilty.
It saddens me that women who may not have even hit puberty are married off. Women--or rather girls--are bartered for opium and livestock. And women are at the complete mercy of their husbands.
I learned about the Afghani culture and many Islamic traditions and customs. The book was even more eye-opening and disturbing than the "Kite Runner" genre of books. But it's a book that everyone should either read or listen to and hopefully someone will be able to stop the atrocities still happening today to countless women.
The ending became more and more predictable as the book went on. I hadn't realized for most of the book that the two female main characters were supposed to be grandmother/great-grandmother and granddaughter. It actually seemed as if the two women were living at the same time. When I realized that the two main characters were living years apart, I found it sad that the plight of women in Afghanistan didn't seem to change during the generations.
Hammond did a nice job. She isn't my favorite author, but I didn't mind her voice.
I found the first few hours of the book to be very boring. Then it picked up for the next few hours. For the last five hours I couldn't stop listening--so I listened to the last part in one setting.
I just finished listening to this audiobook, and am sitting here with tears in my eyes. This is the most moving story I have read in a long time....I just couldn't put it down. Truly wonderful story and performance!
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