The Pearl that Broke Its Shell Summary and Reviews

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell

by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi X
The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
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  • Published in USA  May 2014
    464 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A lyrical, heartbreaking account of silenced lives." - Kirkus

"Nadia Hashimi has written, first and foremost, a tender and beautiful family story. Her always engaging multigenerational tale is a portrait of Afghanistan in all of its perplexing, enigmatic glory, and a mirror into the still ongoing struggles of Afghan women." - Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner

"A fascinating look at the unspoken lives of Afghani women, separated by generations and miles, yet achingly similar. This is a story to transport you and make you think." - Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter

This information about The Pearl that Broke Its Shell shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Beckyh

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
Two women who were “bocha posh” in their youth are the two heroines of this double story. Rahima is the modern girl who is turned into a boy in order for her family to survive in a patriarchal society where girls/women are forced into the extreme background of life. Shekiba (the great-great-grandmother of Rahima) becomes “bacha posh” because of the deaths of her immediate family and the shunning of her extended family. Both women live in a very structured Aghan society that does not permit females to participate in society.
The intertwined tales follow the women throughout their lives as they transition from girl to “boy” and then back to girl. The second transition is the most difficult as they must adjust from relative freedom to a rigidly obedient life under the complete domination of both males and the older women who can make their lives miserable or pleasant.
Traditional Afghan society is made very clear as we learn the intimate details of Rahima and Shekiba’s lives. Both women make choices that determine their fates as well as the fates of those they love or simply grow to know. The character who connects the two women is Shaima, Rahima’s aunt, who tells the story of Shekiba in order to encourage Rahima to live her life as fully as possible.
Book groups will ponder the fate of the many women who people the book and find much to discuss – husbands, education, the position of women, ethical behavior, the importance of family and, of course, the oddity of “bacha posh” itself.
5 of 5 stars

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Author Information

Nadia Hashimi Author Biography

Photo: Chris Carter Photography

Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. Nadia attended Brandeis University where she obtained degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. She enrolled in medical school in Brooklyn and after graduation went on to complete her pediatric training at NYU/Bellevue hospitals in New York City. On completing her training, Nadia moved to Maryland where she works as a pediatrician. She is married and has three children, and an African Grey parrot.

Link to Nadia Hashimi's Website

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