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Silent Hearts: Book summary and reviews of Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio

Silent Hearts

by Gwen Florio

Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio X
Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2018
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A stirring novel set in Afghanistan about two women - an American aid worker and her local interpreter - who form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul.

In 2001, Kabul is suddenly a place of possibility as people fling off years of repressive Taliban rule. This hopeful chaos brings together American aid worker Liv Stoellner and Farida Basra, an educated Pakistani woman still adjusting to her arranged marriage to Gul, the son of an Afghan strongman whose family spent years of exile in Pakistan before returning to Kabul.

Both Liv and her husband take positions at an NGO that helps Afghan women recover from the Taliban years. They see the move as a reboot - Martin for his moribund academic career, Liv for their marriage. But for Farida and Gul, the move to Kabul is fraught, severing all ties with Farida's family and her former world, and forcing Gul to confront a chapter in his life he'd desperately tried to erase.

The two women, brought together by Farida's work as an interpreter, form a nascent friendship based on their growing mutual love for Afghanistan, though Liv remains unaware that Farida is reporting information about the Americans' activities to Gul's family, who have ties to the black market.

As the bond between Farida and Liv deepens, war-scarred Kabul acts in different ways upon them, as well as their husbands. Silent Hearts is an absorbing, complex portrayal of two very different but equally resilient women caught in the conflict of a war that will test them in ways they never imagined.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Florio delivers an intriguing, well-spun tale that is both a striking portrait of two resilient, appealing women and a fascinating in-depth depiction of the cultural and religious aspects of life in Kabul after the collapse of the Taliban regime. " - Library Journal

"Florio (Dakota, 2014), who reported from Afghanistan as a journalist, handles her material with conviction and skill." - Booklist

"A well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful portrait of women in wartime Afghanistan." - Kirkus

"A rich, haunting, immersive story of cultures at the crossroads - deeply moving. A heart-smashingly good read, the kind of novel you'll want to share with your book club." - Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"By flipping the script, Florio not only shows us life in post-9/11 Afghanistan but also casts a dispassionate eye toward America, as seen by those who bear the brunt of its aggression." - Thrity Umrigar, author of The Space Between Us and The Secrets Between Us

"Silent Hearts is searing, brave, and complex, but most importantly, an absolute pleasure to read...I learned so much, and I felt even more. Silent Hearts is my favorite book of the year." - Richard Fifield, author of The Flood Girls

"Gorgeous. Illuminating. Resonant. Thrilling ... A masterful story that surprises and deserves every single accolade it's sure to get ... and then some." - Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

"Silent Hearts is one of the best books I've ever read about America's long dirty war in Afghanistan ... [It] is a non-stop flight to Kabul, transporting readers to a land inhabited by 'a people bent beneath the weight of war.'" - David Abrams, author of Brave Deeds and Fobbit

"I found myself riveted by this story, the richness of the setting, and the geo-political themes written intimately on the lives of these two women." - Shilpi Somaya Gowda, #1 bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son

"Too often in stories of modern war, the everyday lives of those caught up in its ravages are pushed to the background. Not so in Silent Hearts, a ferocious, whip-smart tribute to those everyday lives. Readers will become immersed in the hopes and fears of Farida and Liv, and find themselves wishing we all possessed the courage of these women. If we did, the world would be a much finer place." - Matt Gallagher, author of Youngblood

"With deep reservoirs of empathy and intelligence, Gwen Florio's Silent Hearts asserts that humanity is something we share across cultures and that all hearts break the same. Her talent is on full display in these pages and she is masterful." - Elliot Ackerman, author of Dark at the Crossing

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Author Information

Gwen Florio

Gwen Florio grew up in a 250-year-old brick farmhouse on a wildlife refuge in Delaware and now lives in Montana. Currently the city editor for the Missoulian, Gwen has reported on the Columbine High School shooting and from conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. In 2013, Montana, her first novel in the Lola Wicks detective series, won the High Plains Book Award and the Pinckley Prize for debut crime fiction.

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