Title : The Pearl that Broke Its Shell
Author : Nadia Hashimi
ISBN : 9780062244758
Publisher : William Morrow
Genre : Fiction
Pages : 452
Source : Self
Rating : 4 stars
When you read a book on dystopic Afghanistan, the first thing that strikes you is Khaled Hosseini and his books. Hashimi (the debut author) is no Hosseini but she has successfully made her mark in this book which includes two parallel stories of generations apart.
Her life would be riddled with everything an Afghani woman could encounter as part of the cultural practices in their families. The picturesque prose would relate a story of fear, oppression, abuse, love, hope and freedom.
The story is of Rahima (of present time) and her great great Grandmother Shekiba. Though hundreds of years apart, what is common in their stories is the fact that both were forced to act and dress like a man during a part of their life- Rahima as a Bacha Posh (the notorious Afghan tradition) and Shekiba as a guard to the harem of the king of Afghanistan.
As both the stories continue, you get to witness not only inhumanely tragedy, suffering and injustice but also insurmountable hope, perseverance and endurance by both the leading protagonists. Though Rahima’s story becomes predictable by the end, it is the twist and turns of Shekiba’s story that will keep you glued to the book till the end.
The story of country’s women, experiencing political and social upheavals of a country’s own weaknesses and strengths, and the role played by people in being forced to be the buffer zone between competing external powers battling for control over the region and how people adapt to challenges.
The story contains all those elements that make a book a winner, such as, tastes, colors, emotions, history, traditions, politics, everything that a book needs to become a great book. The character Rahima becomes so real in the narration that it makes the reader want to write her a letter after reading the book. Although it is a fictional tale, it portrays enough reality to leave the reader informed and wiser in the end.
The prose is detailed and written with much grace and integrity and ensures the reader walks away with a much deeper understanding of a country we only see through constant wars.
The book has an average prose but an engaging plot and Hashimi has done a great job in her debut.