|Disclosure: Some of the links in this review of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel, are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. |
It has been awhile since I posted a book review but after reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi I knew I had to share it with you guys. Even if you only read one book a year, this debut novel needs to go on your reading list. I consider myself very scrupulous with my book review ratings, and I would give this one at least 4.5/5 stars. In my adult life, I have only ever awarded 8 books with a five-star rating.
Nadia Hashimi did an eloquent job of interweaving the stories of two different Afgan women. The women are related but separated by generations, regardless of the generational differences many of the struggles they faced were similar. Rahima was a child bride, and Shekiba was a woman with a large, deforming scar on half of her face, the result of a childhood accident. Shekiba is Rahima's great-great-grandmother, and Rahima used the strength and wisdom she learned from Shekiba's stories to persevere through unimaginable adversity in her own young life.
This is a fictional story, but it is told in such a way that it could easily be true. The suppression and adversity that Afgan women are faced with then and now, are so different than the roles we have in Western society. This book is not easy to read but it is enlightening, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat. It is perfect if you are looking for a book club book that will generate meaningful discussion about very real issues women face in Afghanistan. More than that, however, it is a book highlighting the extreme cultural differences between women in the Western world versus those under the careful scrutiny of a male-dominated society in Afghanistan.
I was shocked to learn how slowly life and societal norms evolve in Afghanistan. The novel tells the story of two women separated by years and generations, but their stories could almost overlap regarding the oppression and censorship they faced. If you watch the news at all, you must be aware that women are being treated unfairly, stoned to death because they are victims of rape, left on the curb because of deformities, sold to the highest bidder for a cow. In Afghanistan, women are mere possessions, and in many cases, they have little to no purpose other than to bear children and tend to a house. They are passed along from one family to the next like an old pair of hand-me-down jeans; their opinions and voices of no consequence. This book gives those women a voice, it sheds light on the emotions, thoughts, and dreams that women have, even if they are tucked away inside their husband's or father's compound with no access to or knowledge of the outside world.
After reading this novel, I'm looking forward to watching Hashimi's career evolve. Her ability to hook readers with riveting character development and intriguing plot points, culturally counterintuitive to my understanding of the world, leaves me wanting more.
Now I am onto my next book At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider.
Check out some of my other book reviews here:
What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?