The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell

514 printed pages
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Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel 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-great grandmother, 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?
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The boys meant it to be flattering. But it frightened the girl since people would have loved to assume that she’d sought out the attention. There just weren’t many ways for the boys to entertain themselves.
“Shahla, where is Rohila?” I whispered. My heart was pounding as we tiptoed around to the back of the house.
“She’s taken some food to the neighbor’s house. Madar-jan cooked some eggplant for them. I think someone died.”
Died? My stomach tightened and I turned my attention back to following Shahla’s footsteps.
“Where’s Madar-jan?” Parwin said, her voice a nervous hush.
“She’s putting the baby to sleep,” Shahla said, turning toward us. “So you better not make too much noise or she’ll know you’re just coming home now.”
Parwin and I froze. Shahla’s face fell as she looked at our widened eyes. She whipped around to see Madar-jan standing behind her. She had come out of the back door and was standing in the small paved courtyard behind the house.
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