NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

5.0 out of 5 stars "The human harder than a rock and more delicate than a flower petal."
Narrated in alternating points of view and shifting back and forth in time, this is a beautiful novel about the daughters of Afghanistan. Though subjected to treatment that utterly made me cringe in horror, two women manage to overcome incredible obstacles to survive. Both Rahima and her great-great grandmother Shekiba spend a few years as bacha posh -- girls who dress as boys in a custom that allows them some freedom not allowed to females to better serve the needs of their family when there are no sons. In that guise, they realize that their religion and social rules are meant to keep women as slaves to the males who steal or buy them as wives. Denied the education that they covet, each woman must find a way out of the hell she lives in.

Though separated by over a century in years, Rahima and Shekiba are abused by the men and women they live with as each experiences her own personal subjugation under the harsh rule of husband and extended family. Held in their homes without contact with the outside world, they only have value when they give birth to sons. Considered second class in all ways, women are kept ignorant so that they can be controlled. How each deals with her situation is often heartbreaking but ultimately heroic.

Although I could hardly bear to put this book down, at times I had to step away, take a deep breath, count my blessings, and be thankful that I live where I do in this time. I don't think I would have lasted more than a day or two had I faced the lives of Rahima or Shekiba. I will think about this powerful theme and the plight of any woman forced to live as a possession to her family or a man. I think this is a book that begs discussion by those of us who enjoy the freedoms we have in a world where other women do not have the same privilege and luxury to be all that they can be only because of being female.

Highly recommended.
Amazon Vine ARC

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