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Girls Burn Brighter

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  20,157 ratings  ·  2,859 reviews
A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the tw
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Flatiron Books
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Sherry Rosenberg I am more than halfway through this wonderful but heartwrenching book. I have also read the great book The Color of Our Sky and there are strong simil…moreI am more than halfway through this wonderful but heartwrenching book. I have also read the great book The Color of Our Sky and there are strong similarities. We are constantly hearing about the educational, technical and financial advances in India. I'm afraid to say that there is so much abuse that is coming to light in books like these and in the daily news. While NGO's try to help it is really the wealthier population and the Indian government itself that needs to crack down on these issues. Although I enjoyed The Color of Our Sky I didn't find the premise as believable because of the time lapse with the one character trying to find the other. I also found this book by Ms. Rao far more poetic and just more beautifully written in general. I am looking forward to finishing it. (less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  20,157 ratings  ·  2,859 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2018
“What is love if not a hunger?”

Finishing this book was so bittersweet. I both love and hate the ending.

Girls Burn Brighter is a book about two young lives - that of Poornima and Savitha - and it takes us through a lot of tragic events. That being said, I didn't find it emotionally-manipulative. The author's storytelling is definitely evocative, but it is straightforward enough that the horrific events don't feel gratuitous, and the two women at the centre of the story are what burn brightest
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really thought I was going to love Girls Burn Brighter. The novel starts out with a short prologue about an old woman being interviewed by a journalist about her garden of trees. In only two pages, it was lovely, touching, and hard-hitting, everything that I hoped the rest of the book was going to be.

The story then begins with two girls, Poornima and Savitha, who become fast friends in their adolescence, who work together for Poornima's father, weaving saris. Tragic circumstances soon pull the
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
All the fiery stars to Girls Burn Brighter! 🔥 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Though desperately difficult to wrap my head around the tragic events that happened, this was a book I savored. I was emotionally invested and was lost in it completely. This is why I read.

After finishing Girls Burn Brighter, I immediately wished I could have the experience of reading it all over again. I don’t want to sugarcoat things either. What happens to Poornima and Savitha over the course of their young lives is nothing short of dar
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
That's the way it is: If two people want to be together, they'll find a way. They'll forge a way.

Literary fiction is not the common genre I go for. It has been, though, a genre I have grown quite interested in because it is very different from contemporary or the common kind of books I read. I thought of reading something that makes you realize and analyze something so important, like this.

Girls Burn Brighter introduces us to the difficulties two young girls need to face to find the
Elyse  Walters
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poor and poorer....
Poornima - named after the moon -
Savitha - named after the sun -
are two of the most resilient - brave - and beautiful young girls - you’ll meet in any novel you’ll read. These girls meet in the village where they were born: in India.
We learn about their families - and their families expectations of them.
None of the parents talked shared about the ‘heartbeat-of-life’: the incredible richness - joys - intimacy - and deep satisfaction that friendship is to their souls. THAT..
Diane S ☔
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Poornima and Savitha are two teenage girls living in various degrees of poverty. When Savitha is hired to help with the family livlihood of making saris, they become close friends. So much so that they seek each other out at every turn. A cruel act will send Savitha on the run, and shortly after Poornima will run from a horrible situation she finds herself in, now turning her attention to reuniting with her friend.

The story takes us from India to the United States, chapters alternate between
Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
We girls. Afraid of the wrong things, at the wrong times. Afraid of a burned face, when outside, outside waiting for you are fires you cannot imagine. Men, holding matches up to your gasoline eyes. Flames, flames all around you, licking at your just-born breasts, your just-bled body. And infernos. Infernos as wide as the world. Waiting to impoverish you, make you ash, and even the wind, even the wind. Even the wind, my dear, she thought, watching you burn, willing it, passing over you, and throu ...more
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, out-of-asia

What. A. Novel! I did not want to put this book down but nor did I want it to end. I downloaded another book to read with this, to make it last longer, and yet I couldn't read the other. I HAD to keep reading Girls Burn Brighter.

It is the story of two young women from a small village in India. Savitha is from an extremely poor family and comes to work for Poornima's father. The two develop a deep and stirring friendship. When Savitha is raped, she runs off rather than be forced to marry her rap
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Fierce, Poetic, & Courageous.

A missile to my heart. That is how I felt after I finished this book. I was left with a sense of longing. I missed the characters. They burrowed their way into the depths of my soul. This novel was certainly powerful and provided a deep exploration on the human trafficking market. It also investigated prostitution and the selling of bodies in its worst sense. This story starts in South India and extends to the United States. It was quite a journey and one th
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I heard about this book from The Readers, who are considering it for their summer read. I missed it when it came out in March.

I loved this story about two female friends from the cloth-eaving area of India, who are separated and look for each other. The author made me really invested in the characters and I read it in one day.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You can also read my reviews on WP:

Girls Burn Brighter is a compelling tale of love, friendship, and self-exploration. But mostly survival. It is the heart-wrenching story of being a girl in India and the possibilities beyond a fate.

Her name, Poornima is a constant reminder of what she is not. She is not a source of income, an economic burden to her family. She is not a boy. At sixteen, with the loss of her mother, Poornima is relegated to domestic servi
Tori (InToriLex)
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

This book broke my heart into crumbs and I'm still sweeping pieces of it off the ground. Poornima and Savitha find ways to hold onto each other in a country that considers their existence a burden.They are both born poor and given few opportunities. In India a girls humanity is measured by her utility. Despite this Poornima and Savitha build their friendship on trust and awe. Their love for each other empowers them to keep going, even when they are physi
Lady H
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm struggling to decide just how I feel about this book. So, first off, if you're going in completely clueless like me (why do I not read book summaries properly), massive content warning for rape. This book deals with human trafficking, so you can imagine the content here. This is kind of why I was so unsure of what I thought when I finished it, but that's no fault of the book itself - I just don't really like reading books about things like rape and human trafficking. Which isn't to say that ...more
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much Flatiron Books for providing my free copy of GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shobha Roa - all opinions are my own.

Let me start by saying that this book will not make you feel good. It is heartrending with horrific scenes that will make you cringe. BUT it’s not meant to make you feel good, instead it paints a picture of the author’s very unique perspective. And what I love about this book is the strength of the two strong female protagonists that were born into a society that sees them m
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
The first thing you need to know about this book is that it is brutal. The second thing you need to know is that I loved it.

Girls Burn Brighter tells the story of Poornima and Savitha who had the misfortune of being born poor and female in Indravalli, India. Even though their lives are hard, Poornima and Savitha find joy in each other. They are two sides of the same coin. The sun and the moon. Best friends. But after one horrible night, everything changes and the girls are ripped apart. Unable
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Girls Burn Brighter ripped my heart out, and still won’t let go. Shobha Rao’s words invaded my brain in this beautifully written story about friendship and love, and man’s inhumanity.

Poornima and Savitha are teenagers who meet in their native India. Poormina is poor but when she meets Savitha, she learns that some are even more impoverished than her. Poornima’s father needs someone to help with his business of spinning cotton to make saris and Savitha is a natural. Poormina’s father allows Savit
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sad-books, fiction
This is a fictional story of two young women living in a small village in India, then in the US, who form a powerful friendship. It sustains them and fuels their spirit to survive, even when they are separated by a cruel betrayal and face all forms of oppression. And when one of them decides to finally take control of her life, in a world in which she has no control, she tries to reunite with her friend, no matter how far she must go to do it, both figuratively and literally.

Hardship is nothing
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao in a Goodreads give away in exchange for an honest review. In the book, Girls Burn Brighter, the reader is transported to India where two young, poor girls Poornima and Savitha cross paths and form a bond that is tested but becomes stronger as the years continued. They grew up in a culture where girls were looked down upon as inferior to men. Poornima lost her mother when she was quite young. She now existed to serve her father's demand ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists
Wow. I have so many feelings about this book and not enough words to do it justice. This is the story of two girls, Poornima and Savitha, from the village of Indravalli in India. I fell in love with each of them, individually, almost as soon as they were introduced, and I knew right away I’d be glued to the book until I could find out what happens to them and where they end up. Poornima and Savitha had strong, distinct personalities that brought them to life, and the relationship between them wa ...more
Basic B's Guide
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Please be mentally and emotionally prepared when going in for this read. Thankfully, friends had warned me of the content of this novel. There are triggers including rape and violence. This is a book that will tear your heart to pieces and leave you picking them up for days after. This is not a feel-good book, although there are still moments of hope even in the darkest of times.
I think books like this are important reads. They take us outside of ourselves and the bubble many of us live in. They
Jessica *The Lovely Books*
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know that moment when a books message finally clicks and you’re just left wondering how you’ll ever be the same after hearing it? Yeah, I’m in that boat right now. I knew Girls Burn Brighter would be a five star read even before I read it. The cover just screams read me and remain forever changed. Read it and see how your eyes become wide open. Here I am, an American woman, reading about how women from other countries get treated so terribly. Not that being a woman in today’s world, in Ameri ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
The fact that I finished this book four days ago and forgot to update it until now says something about how memorable I found the reading experience. There are really strong aspects to this story, but the characters and themes fall a bit flat (despite my loving the premise), and after the midway point everything gets weaker until things finally putter to a close. But I still think Rao is a writer to keep an eye on. Review for another outlet coming soon.
Es Summer
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
*Spoilers ahead*

I am disappointed.
I expected so much more.
It's always hard to write negative reviews about novels that are hyped and loved by many people.
But let's give it a try.

The novel is about two Indian girls, Poornima and Savitha. These girls live in an impoverished environment, but they find strength in each other. When they are together, they forget for a while about their poverty, arranged marriages and difficult lives. Together, these girls burn brighter.
I remember reading a passage i
Kourtney • kourtneysbookshelf
...all the beacons of the world, standing all in a row, couldn't save her' - Savitha, Girls Burn Brighter 

Obliterated. Broken. Despaired.  Angry.  Despondent.  Heartbroken.  Helpless.  Hopeful.  Wretched.  Dejected.  Lost.  Furious.  Disappointed.   Hopeless.

These are all the words I would use to describe the way I felt during and after this read.  Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao broke my spirit and crushed all hope.  This is a story of two girls turned young women that begin their lives in In
Krista Regester
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Girls Burn Brighter is the kind of book that will stay with you forever. This is such a satisfying work of art that the author could be content with this as her life’s work. I can’t imagine how much dedication, effort, and self that Shobha Rao had to give for this to become what it is.

We girls. Afraid of the wrong things, at the wrong times. Afraid of a burned face, when outside, outside waiting for you are fires you cannot imagine. Men, holding matches up to your gasoline eyes. Flames, flames
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
[4+] This is a gut-wrenching, can't-put-down novel about two young Indian women and their friendship. I mostly liked Rao's writing even though she went overboard on the coincidences. Yet, I was so invested in Poornima and Savitha that I didn't care - I wanted to believe. I didn't want to leave these women. I wish I had another 300 pages of their stories to read! ...more
Hayley Stenger
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was incredibly difficult to read. The actions taken against the two main characters was horrific. The ending of the books felt completely unsatisfying after reading through the events of the novel.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poornima and Savitha live in a village in India. Both are poor, with the responsibility of caring for their families. Poornima's father is searching for a suitable match for marriage, with little concern for Poornima's happiness. Her family weaves fabric for sari's, and when Savitha is hired to help work a look, she and Poornima develop a close bond of friendship. But when an act of violence causes Savitha to leave the village, Poornima is bereft at the loss of her friend. As each of their paths ...more
Robert Sheard
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one is devastating. It's my second book in succession set in India (at least partially), and both of them have been amazing reads. It's about cruelty to women, the love of best friends, the lengths to which they'll go to try to find each other after a cruel separation. Just read it. ...more
RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)
3 stars. I will do a review down the road.🇺🇸🐾
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SHOBHA RAO moved to the United States from India at the age of seven. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by T.C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She is the author of the short story collection, AN UNRESTORED WOMAN, and the novel, GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER. She lives in San Francisco.

Articles featuring this book

The debut novel Girls Burn Brighter explores the lives of two girls, Poornima and Savitha, who are from a small village in South India. One of...
13 likes · 4 comments
“We girls. Afraid of the wrong things, at the wrong times. Afraid of a burned face, when outside, outside waiting for you are fires you cannot imagine. Men, holding matches up to your gasoline eyes. Flames, flames all around you, licking at your just-born breasts, your just-bled body. And infernos. Infernos as wide as the world. Waiting to impoverish you, make you ash, and even the wind, even the wind. Even the wind, my dear, she thought, watching you burn, willing it, passing over you, and through you. Scattering you, because you are a girl, and because you are ash.” 29 likes
“What is love if not a hunger?” 26 likes
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