The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
written by Nadia Hashimi
This book was a hidden gem and my favorite book I read in 2014. I think I found it on Barnes and Noble deal of the day and I am so happy I did. The author is Nadia Hashimi and she did provide such a wonderful story and cultural influence of Afghan.
The main character is Rahima and a second story within the book is of her great-great-great grandmother Shekiba who Rahima learns lessons from her life story told by her great-aunt. The time of the book is 2007 in Kabul. Rahima is one of five girls, no brothers of her siblings. In this cultural no sons is a bad thing, the daughters have no rights and rarely leave the house, they cannot attend school regularly. Females are married off at a young age where a Father can earn a profit sometimes. Rhaima's father has a drug addiction and combat fighter (most of the time the wrong side). The only hopes of a daughter in this culture setting to be able to leave the home and to have an education is to be a bacha posh, this is an ancient custom where a female can be treated as a boy until she is of age to marry. The daughter has to dress and act the part of a son. Rahima's aunt persuades Rahima's mother and father to allow Rahima to be a bacha posh in order for one of the daughters to be educated. The aunt shares the story of their great-great-great grandmother,Shekiba who was a bacha posh at one time nearly a century earlier. Rahima is allowed to dress as a boy and attend school. She is also allowed to run errands and go to the market. Rahima enjoys this freedom and finds this new life very much enjoyable. One day her father marries her and her two sisters to the same family. Rahima is only 13 at the time. Her life changes very much by oppression, she is abused, and lives in fear. During the time frame she was a bacha posh time a seed was planted within her where she desired freedom and eventually assist Rahima to flee her abusive husband and family.
Within the story, you will read about Shekiba's life as well, the two stories weave within one another. Shekiba is orphaned and ends up working as a girl-man guard to the king's harem.
This book is full of emotions. I highly recommend this book, be prepared for tears. I found myself cheering for Rahima to leave. It also made me feel so grateful where I have been born, where I have the freedom I do as a woman and the opportunity to be educated. I simply loved this book.
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