The Pearl That Broke Its Shell (Hardcover)

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Virgie's Staff Pick (May 2014): This book has left me speechless! Where do I even begin? For one thing, this is a book not to be missed! It’s a book to devour, a page turner which I literally could NOT put it down!

The story allows you to view Afghanistan through the eyes of two young girls, related but living in different generations, both born into a male-dominated society that values males and scorns females. Rahima, living in modern day Afghanistan, hopes to figure out how to exist in a society full of constant turmoil, by paying close attention to the story of her great, great grandmother, Shekiba, who lived at the beginning of the 20th century. The chapters alternate between the characters, and one would think the modern day story would have more hope, but both are so parallel. Shekiba is beaten, abused, ridiculed, treated like dirt, given no rights…and so is the modern-day Rahima. It’s an eye-opening look at how very little has changed for women in Afghanistan in 100 years.

The stories of these two girls, turning into women, are brutally painful and disturbing. It’s difficult for me to believe that this way of thinking occurs in the same world I live in!

— From Virgie's Picks


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?

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062244758
ISBN-10: 0062244752
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Date: May 6th, 2014
Pages: 452
Language: English