My knowledge about life in Afghanistan was limited to news blurbs and short website articles. This all changed when I picked up Nadia Hashimi’s debut...moreMy knowledge about life in Afghanistan was limited to news blurbs and short website articles. This all changed when I picked up Nadia Hashimi’s debut novel The Pearl that Broke Its Shell. The novel follows two Afghani girls. Rahima is nine when her family transforms her into bacha posh, a traditional where young girls are dressed and live like boys. These bacha posh return to being girls once they’ve begin puberty. Rahima’s great-great-grandmother Shekiba lived as a man when she guarded the king’s harem.
For several years “Rahim” enjoyed and relished the freedom and rights of a male child. She attended school, went to the market for her mother, and even found a paying job. Rahima is abruptly returned to girlhood after her mother catches her wrestling with her male friends. Like all girls of marriageable age, Rahima and her two older sisters are forced to become child-wives to men old enough to be their father.
After all the freedom she experienced as a boy, Rahima finds it difficult to live as a subservient fourth wife to a warlord. Her crippled, unmarried aunt continues to visit Rahima to regale her with stories of Shekiba. Her great-great-grandmother’s desire to do more with her life is the rock that helps Rahima push through her mother-in-law’s beatings, her husband’s wives’ wrath, and the nightly visits with her husband.
Rahima and Shekiba’s stories are heartbreaking but powerful. Even with all of their hardships, they wanted a better life and fought for it in their own way. Even readers like me who aren’t familiar with Afghani culture and society can relate to these women. Thank you Nadia Hashimi for telling their stories. While the book is a work of fiction, I have no doubt that similar stories abound.
Add The Pearl that Broke Its Shell.to your shelf. You won’t regret it.
Four days ago, I finished the audiobook Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, but I cannot stop thinking about it. Samuelsson’s voice still runs in a consta...moreFour days ago, I finished the audiobook Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, but I cannot stop thinking about it. Samuelsson’s voice still runs in a constant loop in my head. His eloquent words bounce around my mind as I recall how he spoke of his his inspiration, his journey, and his ambition. I’ve read many books and it’s rare that one sticks with me for so long.
I knew a little bit about Samuelsson’s life before reading his memoir. I first heard of him while watching Top Chef Masters, a favorite reality show of mine. Soon after he was named the season 2 winner, I met him at BlogHer in 2010. I was drawn to his story: Ethiopian born, Samuelsson and his older sister were adopted by Swedish parents. My children, while not adopted, are biracial, and I was fascinated by the dichotomy of Samuelsson’s life. My children will probably face similar challenges as they straddle their different cultures and races.
Yes, Chef opens with Samuelsson’s memory of his Ethiopian mother, who was one of many tragedies in a tuberculosis epidemic that hit Ethiopia. Both he and his sister were stricken but survived. Samuelsson doesn’t mince words as he describes how life must have been for his mother, yet his calm, strong voice hit me hard.
I like reading trilogies. Before becoming emotionally invested, I know there is a definite end to the story as opposed to neverending book series.
That...moreI like reading trilogies. Before becoming emotionally invested, I know there is a definite end to the story as opposed to neverending book series.
That being said, I loathe to start a series by reading the second or third book. While I couldn’t read book #2 of the Brilliance Saga, A Better World by Marcus Sakey fast enough, the suspense thriller ruined me for its prequel, Brilliance. That caveat aside, A Better World was an entertaining suspense thriller. You definitely do not need to read Brilliance before starting A Better World, but I highly recommend it. Since 1980, “brilliants” have popped up around the world. This 1% of the population are genetically wired with special skills and talents: the ability to sense if someone is lying, predicting future events based on patterns, or sense time differently than the “normals.” Thirty-years later, a terrorist network attempts to disrupt the balance of abnorms and norms–to the side of the “abnormals.” Former secret agent Nick Cooper is a brilliant and advisor to the president of the United States. Only he can stop the impending civil war.
A Better World pulls readers in immediately in its action-packed storyline.
As a child I've always loved books that transported me to another world, real or imaginary, that I would never be able to visit otherwise. In novel 'T...moreAs a child I've always loved books that transported me to another world, real or imaginary, that I would never be able to visit otherwise. In novel 'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma, I traveled to Trinidad. Not only did I learn what life is like in on the island, but Francis-Sharma's rich writing allowed me to walk in Marcia Garcia's shoes.
What I admired most about Marcia was her ability to keep pushing to give her children the best life she could even when obstacles were thrown at her. It's not to say that Marcia was a perfect character. She had her imperfections, just like everyone around her. All the characters in the novel are well developed. They felt so real to me that I could envision myself walking down Marcia's street and waving at her neighbors.
Even if I can't related to the struggles and joys of living in Trinidad, I could relate to Marcia's desires and dreams. We all want a better life for ourselves and our family. We dream of finding love and to be loved unconditionally. Marcia could easily be one of us, even if her path is different from our own.
Pick up a copy of 'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma. You won't be disappointed.(less)
Sometimes I just need to read a good story with a character who is endearing and makes a life changing transformation. Unraveling how Kitty hit rock b...moreSometimes I just need to read a good story with a character who is endearing and makes a life changing transformation. Unraveling how Kitty hit rock bottom and how she dug herself out made it hard for me to put down One Hundred Names by Cecilia Ahern. I finished the entire novel over the course of two short plane rides.
Set in Ireland, we meet Kitty aka Katherine Logan, tabloid reporter and magazine journalist. She’s become a hermit due to her recent scandal but manages to come out of hiding to visit Constance, her mentor, who is losing the battle against cancer. Constance still believes in Kitty’s talent for telling stories people care about and challenge her to rediscover that spark. Constance leaves Kitty with a list of 100 names, explaining that each has an important story to tell. Her mentor passes away before Kitty can ask her how the 100 names are connected.