The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
by Nadia Hashimi
Why did you choose this book? The cover is beautiful
When did you read this book? May 2014
Who should read this book? readers who are interested in other cultures and don’t mind a difficult story
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell from TLC Book TOURS
A luminous and unforgettable tale of two women, destiny, and identity in Afghanistan
Kabul, 2007: The Taliban rules the streets. With a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can rarely leave the house or attend school. Their only hope lies in the ancient Afghan custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a son until she is of marriageable age. As a boy, she has the kind of freedom that was previously unimaginable . . . freedom that will transform her forever.
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 in the same way—the change took her on a journey from the deprivation of life in a rural village to the opulence of a king’s palace in the bustling metropolis of Kabul.
Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell interweaves the stories of these two remarkable women who are separated by a century but share the same courage and dreams. What will happen once Rahima is old enough to marry? How long can Shekiba pass as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?
This one left me with a severe book hangover! I had a great deal of trouble leaving this one behind and moving on to my next read! This is a story about two strong women, in the same family in Afghanistan,but separated by 100 years. Both found themselves in difficult circumstances in a country where women have no rights, and abuse by men is accepted. Both take up the tradition of ‘bacha posh’ in which young girls are ‘made into’ boys, wearing the clothing of boys and being treated as a boy, with all the rights and respect that boy get in their country. However, once they are ‘women’ of marriageable age, which is very young, they are to be turned back into girls, and somehow magically know how to behave like a girl, marry, and give up all the rights to which they’ve are accustomed Needless to say, this is confusing for a young girl of 13!
The story alternates between that of Rahima, the current day bacha posh, and her great-great grandmother, Shekiba. Both stories were fascinating stories. No matter which one I was reading, I was always disappointed when the story switched to the other because I always wanted to know more! At times the book became difficult to read because of the cruelty to which the women were subjected. Beatings by displeased husbands were every day occurances, as was mistreatment by male relatives and even other women, including the husband’s first wife or mother. There were times I wanted to scream “Rahina, what are you thinking?” “Shekiba, don’t do it!” because I knew a beating would follow.
Even though this was a difficult read, I think it gives a true picture of the situation in which women find themselves in Afghanistan. The story of these women and the strength they showed is inspiring. As difficult as it their life is, the story does end on a positive note and a glimmer of hope.
Regular readers know that I seldom give a book a perfect 5 stars, but this one is an exception. I can’t find a single think I didn’t like about this book! This will be a great book club selection with much to discuss!
About Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi’s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Hashimi visited Afghanistan for the first time. She lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C., where she works as a pediatrician.
Below is a clip of the author introducing her book.
My Rating: ★★★★★ 5 Stars
This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I received a copy of the book in return for an honest review, which you can read above.
Nadia’s Tour Stops
Wednesday, May 7th: The Gilmore Guide to Books
Thursday, May 8th: Lit and Life
Friday, May 9th: Books in the Burbs
Monday, May 12th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, May 13th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, May 14th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, May 15th: West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, May 21st: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, May 22nd: Time 2 Read
Monday, May 26th: BoundbyWordsTBD: Svetlana’s Reads and Views