From the author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell comes an unforgettable story of terror, survival, perseverance, and hope that chronicles one extraordinarily brave Afghan woman's odyssey to save her family and find asylum in the West - a tale of a daring escape, a perilous trek across Europe, and the courage and tenacity of one defiant woman.
Mahmood's passion for his wife, Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy middle-class world - a life of education, work, and comfort - implodes when their country is engulfed in war and the Taliban rises to power.
Mahmood, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: She must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba and her children make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family. Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.
©2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2015 Blackstone Audio
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I didn't mean to listen to this from start to finish with only a tiny nap in between, honest I didn't. It was just too damned engaging, the characters were so well-fleshed out, and the writing! They weren't just words on a page, they were a darned hymn! If I could write like this I'd be sitting at my laptop day and night, enthralled, thankful.
Instead, I'm listening to "When the Moon Is Low," by Nadia Hashimi, enthralled, thankful.
From the beginning, Fereiba is a strong, immensely likable character, kept at home, who will do anything for an education. Then she is swirled through the waters of the conventions of arranged marriage only to get off on an answered prayer.
But nothing is ever easy in Afghanistan. An arranged marriage might not be the worst thing in the world.
As Fereiba says, she lives through, "many regime changes in Afghanistan." Starting with the death of her mother. And it goes from there. There's her stepmother, but there's the Soviet Union as she gets her teaching certificate too. And the Taliban.
Everything goes from loving exposition to utterly breathless from there, but characterization never fails and plot never falters. And once again, at the danger of being hopelessly repetitive, the writing is exemplary.
Sneha Mathan and Neil Shah turn in wonderful performances. I kinda had reservations about Neil Shah, having heard him in a previous audiobook where he turned in a capable but less than stellar performance, and here was a book than demanded fantastic. I was really, really pleased. The hand-off from Fereiba to Saleem is credible, pulse-pounding, and humane.
Spend the money, spend the credit, spend the time on this truly awesome story. It's worth the sleep you'll lose!
I read Hashimi''s debut novel, "The Pearl that Broke its Shell"; that book had an interesting concept but desperately needed an editor.
I worried about a similar fate for this book, but enjoyed "Pearl" enough that I gave it a go.
This book described Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, then the Taliban, and one family's desperate escape to freedom. I loved the descriptions of characters - those who helped and those who hindered - and especially the family that is the focus.
Sneha Mathan is, as always, good as a narrator. I think a little bit of production might have cut out some of the awkward pauses in her performance. Neil Shah had a strong emotive performance, but during dialogue, he would pitch his voice low, which was unnecessary to my ears.
This story gives the face to the current refugee crisis facing the world. I personally enjoyed the first bit of the book, and found the ending was abrupt. This book could have used another chapter or two to round it out further, but those are minor drawbacks to a wonderful book and performance.
This is the best book I have listened to. It is full of cultural cues into Afganian live when the Taliban took over, struggles of refugees not only Afganistan refugees but others throughout the story, a series of love stories and more dark affections. The shadowing of growing up in difficult times is mirrored throughout the story. It is a must read or listen!
Closest book I can recall is Orphan Train.
The voices make the images come alive as the story unfolds.
Salim as we see him grow from a happy child to a sombre teenager and are able to view him mature far beyond his years, from experiences that no one at his age should have to endure.
The story is told so vividly, that you feel like you are on this family's journey...You can smell the smells, hear the sounds, it transports you to a place far away and takes you on their emotional journey. It is about dreams, life, hardship, love, loss, survival...It is about life.
No. I don't enjoy listening to the same book twice. However, I really enjoyed it.
When Saleem was separated from his family and persevered to reunite with them under harrowing circumstances.
My favorite scene was when Saleem helped the prostitute and then she helped him.Salem, in spite of his circumstances, showed that he was still a compassionate boy.
It would be Salem. I would want to ask him what made him so strong and how that trait helped him. He was so smart and always tried to find a way. I hope he made it to his family. I want to think he did.
I would highly recommend this book. I just couldn't stop listening. The narrator's performance was excellent.
Did not expect to like this book so much, but oh my goodness! The story actually helped me to better understand how terribly difficult it was for Afghan refugees to leave their homes and move on to other parts of the world, such as Europe and England. Could not imagine having to sell my valuables in order to get fake passports and passage to that of safety. Also, the main characters here suffered poor treatment from police and other officials, and during their travels, they were even exposed to awful housing conditions and had very little food to eat. The author takes us on one family's journey from Afghanistan to England where their family now resides and has promised to provide shelter and care. Sadly, these Afghan refugees risked death for a greater life. Only problem with the story was the ending. I felt it was much too abrupt, and left me wondering whether or not the teenage son finally made it back to his mom and siblings. Enjoyed the narration, but definitely would say that the female performer was better. She was believable as the matriarch, and as a mom, could truly relate to wanting to protect her children at all cost. Purchased this book as the daily special, and would certainly recommend listening to it, even for 1 credit.
This is the story of a refugee family, working their way across dangerous borders to escape Afghanistan as it is being taken over by the Tali-ban. Even more so, it is the story of a woman with an extraordinary spirit named Fereiba and her brave and extraordinary son Saleem.
The first part of the book is about Fereiba growing up. showing us the beauty of the Afghan culture as it was before the Tali-ban and telling us Fereiba's story, who she is and why.
The second part of the story goes back and forth between Fereiba and Saleem's perspectives as the family goes through heart breaking peril and pain as they fight for the freedoms we in the Western world take for granted every day.
Everyone should read this book! Especially in light of current events in the news involving terrorism .
It's a healthy reminder that the everyday people in the Middle East are the ones who suffer most at the hands of terrorism, and they need our help, not our fear.
Sneha Mathan is the voice of Ferieba, and does so with a clear and gentle accent (aka very easy to understand) that really adds a nice touch to the story. Her voice was a definite contributing factor to my liking Ferieba so much. Neil Shah narrated Saleem with talent and just the right amount of emotion.
I have actively recommended this book to anyone who will listen, I hope some of them follow up because this is definitely worth the read.
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