Monday, May 26, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Pearl That Broke It's Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Title: The Pearl That Broke it's Shell
Author: Patry Francis
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: May 6/2014
Acquired:  Print ARC provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

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?


The Pearl That Broke it's Shell was a compulsive page-turner. It was intense in a way that was both suffocating, and freeing. The characters in this book experienced lives that were so consistently disheartening, that there were moments when I wondered if the light at the end of the tunnel would ever show itself-I had never felt so helpless, as a reader. The narrative was a lot easier to follow than those that have similar plot-lines/settings (see, The Secret Daughter, or The Kite Runner). Hasimi's writing was not complex, but so beautiful in it's simplicity.

Following the lives of two powerful female leads, a century apart from one another, The Pearl That Broke it's Shell was the ultimate story of breaking free; of finding your purpose in a world that has already decided it for you. Rahima is the third daughter of five, and her family's only hope. At her controlling father's request, she and her sisters are forced to stay locked in their homes, in hopes of avoiding the taunts, and harassment, of the the village's young men. Out of desperation, her mother decides to implement an age-old tradition, allowing Rahima to become 'Rahim'; a son, instead of a daughter, with a simple haircut, and change of clothes. Rahima is ecstatic with her change, and the freedom it allows her. Her new identity claims her for longer than socially accepted, and after an innocent act with a neighbour boy, her father puts an end to it, and decides to marry off Rahima, and her two older sisters to the village warlord, and his cousins. 

Flash back to the past, Rahima's great-great-great-grandmother is battling her own hardships. Shekiba is raised estranged from her extended family, having only her parents, and three siblings as company. After losing her siblings to cholera, Shekiba takes the place of both daughter, and son, becoming adept at both the household chores of females, and the hard-labour of the men. After her parents pass away, Shekiba is left to fend for herself. She is soon found by her uncles, and grandmother, and is quickly sent away as a slave-girl. She changes hands multiple times, enduring unspeakable torments along the way.

The Pearl That Broke it's Shell was the merging of these two lives, even from such a distance in time. Their journeys mirrored each others, their injustice's equally horrifying. I couldn't decide who I sympathized with more-I just couldn't stop thanking God for my good fortunes, and privileges, as a female living in this current time. Nadia Hashimi wasn't graphic in her explanations, but there was enough written for you to draw your own conclusions about what Rahima and Shekiba were going through. There were few moments of relief, but when they did occur, it was some the most intense feelings of lightness that I've ever felt, while reading. There are few characters that I have cheered for more, so few that were deserving of happiness the way Rahima and Shekiba deserved it.

There was also an underlying political plot-line happening simultaneously-namely during the events of 9/11, but from the perspective of Afghani citizens. It was refreshing, and extremely eye-opening. The author was determined to hit every emotion with this book, and succeeded on so many levels. The Pearl That Broke it's Shell is a book that will demand your attention, and then insist on staying alive in your head, long after you've finished it.

Recommended for fans of: Khalid Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, The Secret Daughter, Cultural Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Controversial Issues, disability in fiction.


CLICK HERE to read all about Nadia on her biography page!

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to William Morrow for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour

1 comment:

  1. Authors who can write simply but beautifully have a gift. I'm more impressed by that than someone whose writing might be amazing but is more inaccessible. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book!

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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