by Nadia Hashimi
Why did you choose this book? I’ve read and enjoyed the author’s previous books
When did you read this book? February 2017
Who should read this book? Readers who enjoyed The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and similar stories of that highlight the plight of Eastern women.
Source: library ebook
My Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4 Stars
Here is a synopsis of A House Without WIndows from Goodreads
For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed.
Awaiting trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: eighteen-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an “honor killing”; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, a teen runaway who stays because it is safe shelter; twenty-year-old Mezghan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for a court order to force her lover’s hand. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, like them, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment; removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.
Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his homeland have brought him back. With the fate this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like the Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.
A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women, The House with No Windows is astonishing, frightening, and triumphant.
I’ve read Nadia Hashimi’s previous novels, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and When The Moon Is Low. I enjoyed them both very much, so I knew I wanted to read this one, too. I enjoyed it, too, but if I am being honest, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did the earlier books. It took a while before the story clicked and I felt a connection. Once I did, the story flowed along well. I liked the character of Zeba; she is a strong, brave woman who is loyal to her children. She understands very well the plight of woman in her country and cares about her children and the children of her village. She is willing to take great risks to protect them.
I also liked Yusef, her lawyer, though I wish we could have followed his story a little further. I enjoyed watching the story unfold and seeing how Yusef dealt with the challenges presented by the emerging judicial system in Afghanistan that was so unlike what he experienced in the US. It was interesting to watch as the judge tried hard to balance tradition against modern ideas of justice.
Another thing I enjoyed was the background story of Zeba and her family. Her mother was an interesting woman with magical abilities, which lead people to both revere and abhor her, and led her husband to abandon the family when Zeba was a young girl. The family dynamics were a big part of the story and I like the way it was all resolved.
Bookclubs will enjoy discussing this one. There is a reader’s guide on the publisher’s website.