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?
Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star
This was the first book that I have ever read that was set in Afghanistan and I found it a fascinating look into a society that I really didn't know much about. Of course I had an idea of how things were from news stories but I feel like I learnt so much about the people of this country and their customs and beliefs from The Pearl That Broke Its Shell.
The stories of Rahima and Shekiba were both so heartbreaking that they felt almost unbelievable because of the things that happened to them and the fact that they were able to survive such unimaginable pain and hardship.
It was a very emotional journey and often times I found it quite difficult to read, the awful lives they seemed doomed to seemed so desperate. It showed me so much about how people are resilient in the face of adversity and that you cannot crush someone's spirit if they won't let you.
I found it hard to believe that this was the author's first novel as her descriptions and character development are unparalleled. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was so original, completely engrossing and eye opening all at once. It was an incredible tale that often left me unsettled and it definitely won't be a novel that I will forget.
Thank you to William Morrow for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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