The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel

Paperback | January 6, 2015

byNadia Hashimi

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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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From the Publisher

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 siste...

From the Jacket

A luminous and unforgettable tale of two women, destiny, and identity in AfghanistanKabul, 2007: The Taliban rules the streets. With a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can rarely leave the house or attend school. Their only hope lies in the ancient Afghan custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dr...

Nadia Hashimi is an Afghan American pediatrician living in suburban Washington, D.C. She is the author of the international bestsellerThe Pearl That Broke Its Shell.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.77 inPublished:January 6, 2015Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062244760

ISBN - 13:9780062244765

Customer Reviews of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this bookTruly amazing. Very cleverly written weaving the story between different generations,but also heartbreaking with the stories that are told and the courage that is needed just to get through each day.
Date published: 2017-01-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quick read it was a good read, a bit slow to start
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book I have recommended my books for many friends and their book club. This novel is amazing. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book! I have recommended my books for many friends and their book club. This novel is amazing.
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely LOVED this book I can't remember the last time that I was so moved by a story like this one. I could not put this book down. It totally captivated me - and brought me to tears reading of the story of these sisters and their lives. Nadia Hashimi did an amazing job.
Date published: 2016-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye-Opening This debut novel by Hashimi is poignant, heartrending, and an excellent read. The author has been compared aptly to Khaled Hosseini, Jhummpa Lahiri, and Lisa See. Hashimi writes about the ancient tradition of bacha posh, which allows a girl in a family without sons to be treated as a boy until she reaches a marriageable age. For Rahima, this means freedom and education until she is betrayed by her father and married to a warlord at the age of 13. Her education enables Rahima to take advantage of opportunities that arise when a new parliament is formed and her husband's first wife, unable to read or write, becomes a puppet member of the parliament and accepts Rahima as her assistant. Intertwined with this more modern day story is the story of Rahima's great-aunt Shekiba who, orphaned as a child, finds herself guarding the king's harem as a "man." Both struggle with the limitations imposed on them when forced to adapt to married life. This would make an excellent read for book clubs and for anyone who believes in the education of women. Ignorance is not bliss, as this novel clearly iterates.
Date published: 2016-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Pearl That Broke It's Shell This extremely powerful novel of the plight of Afghani women over the years weaves between the story of 2 women separated by 5 generations. It discusses the hopelessness of women with no control over their lives, their Fate lying in the hands of others. In many ways a devestating story, but still leaving one with a sense of hope
Date published: 2015-10-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read, wasn't entirely happy with the ending I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The writing was quite lovely. The transitions from current to the past made me want to keep reading, as it seemed to always be at critical moments. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, and wished for a bit more of a resolution. It was hopeful though, which is probably what the author wanted to convey.
Date published: 2015-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tbe pearl that broke its shell Excellent but disturbing story. Well written and believable tale of the two women. I could feel their fear and dispair and courage.
Date published: 2015-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative story This story taught me a lot about Afghanstan society. It was quite engaging. The untertwining of two stories gave the book breadth and depth.
Date published: 2015-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting read The lifestyle and daily lives of these people was very interesting. It was good to learn about our peoples way of living.
Date published: 2015-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book:) I loved this story. It gave me insight to a culture I know very little about. Very well written. Hard to put down.
Date published: 2015-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I WASN'T TORN ON THIS BOOK AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT Don't even know when to start and unlike one review I read this book in two days, all while trying to live my life as well :) I could not put it down. Although I do agree that perhaps we didn't need to continually hear about abusive husbands and other family members, by the same token it was a fact of life for Afghan women. Although things have turned for them slowly, many women are still treated like 4th class citizens. And those customs and treatment follow them to other countries that believe women are as good as men. For all of the 'family' togetherness and loyalty of their culture, it does not really include the women. If men had only been aware that the 'sex' of a baby is determined by the male, I wonder if they'd still have been so willing to blame the wrong 'sex' of the baby on the woman. I dare to say it would not have changed anything. I had nothing but respect for Rahima and Shekiba, I felt every beating and unkind word. Their class distinction and the political corruption is nothing new in the world of man and never will be changed. More the pity- decent, gentle people will never rule his world. Greed and intolerance has ruled from day one.
Date published: 2015-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love love love this book Liked how it went back and forth between the two characters. Showing how the way women are treated hasn't really changed
Date published: 2015-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An evil beside her This was a fascinating read but harrowing for all concerned! I couldn't put it down. His wife deserves peace and happiness.
Date published: 2015-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful work by Hashimi Amazing. Loved every moment. Strong heroines in a male dominated society. Tragedy and light around every corner.
Date published: 2015-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye opening Very educational and sad to think that women could be worth less than animals. Excellent story and wonderfully written. Very hard to put down.
Date published: 2015-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The pearl thst broke its shell Very interesting and well written. I liked it very much. A rare insight into other culters and lifrstyles.
Date published: 2015-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book This is a well written story that will move you. There is very little that most of us know about the middle east and this is an eye opener.
Date published: 2015-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The pearl that broke its shell Gripping story thats weaves in and out of the lives of Rahima and her Bibi Shekiba. Spanning generations and circumtances, paints a story of hope and strength in a world not supportive of either for women.
Date published: 2015-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read An amazing & thought provoking book . Ms Hashimi is a very talented writer who is able to bring her characters to life in such a way that their sorrows & triumphs are ours . A thoroughly great read that helps open our eyes to the hardships of women in other areas of the world. I have recommended it to all of my book loving friends. Bravo!
Date published: 2015-03-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting I gave this book a three star rating because although the story was interesting and kept my attention, it wasn't a book that I had trouble putting down. When reading this book, it was as if I was reading two books at the same time and I found it difficult to remember the vast amount of characters who intertwined with the two main characters.
Date published: 2015-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Had to keep reading, it opened my eyes to the lives of women of Afghanistan and their inequality to men. Made me glad I live I the western world.
Date published: 2015-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating! The story is so captivating I could not put the book down for long. Read for two days through to finish. Loved it!
Date published: 2015-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The pearl that broke its shell Heart-wrenching. Such challenges the women in this story endured. Well written and kept me wanting to read more.
Date published: 2014-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Pearl that Broke Its Shell-A Novel Captured and held my interest from the first chapter to the very last page. A inside view of what true hopelessness would look and feel like.
Date published: 2014-12-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I was torn on this book I am torn between 3 and 4 stars. I liked the story, and the concept of the plot but it is the writing that I had a problem with. This story made me ponder what life was really like for women in Afganistan, which was a positive thing, however, the dialog was stilted, and seemed so flat. The sentences were either too complex, or much too simple. The story was not told well at all. I had difficulty finishing the story and it took me forever to read.
Date published: 2014-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Pearl that broke its shell Couldn't put it down. Excellent book.
Date published: 2014-08-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Thoughts It started off well but I was disappointed with the ending.
Date published: 2014-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Debut! MY REVIEW: HarperCollins Publishers|April 10, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-233851-8 Debut Afghan-American author Nadia Hashimi's THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL, the entwined stories of two Afghan women separated by a century who find freedom in the tradition of bacha posh, which allows girls to dress and live as boys until they are of marriageable age. "I think it is time we change something for you. I think it would be best if we let you be a son to your father." Kabul, 2009: Growing up in a family with five daughters and no sons, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and then, as they grow older, can rarely leave the house. Their mother struggles to support the family as their father becomes increasingly addicted to drugs. But one day their aunt, Khala Shaima, makes a suggestion: as a bacha posh, Rahima can become a son-dressing as a boy, with a boy's name, tread as a boy-until she is of marriageable age. She will be able to attend school and go to the marketplace. It's an old custom, but one that most of society turns a blind eye to when girls are young. And then Khala Shaima begins to tell a story that transforms Rahima's life: the story of her great-great-grandmother, Shekiba. Kabul, 1909: Shekiba, the daughter of a rural farming family, is disfigured in an accident as a child. When her parents and siblings die in a cholera epidemic, she has no one left to support her and is treated as little better than a slave in a relative's home until she is able to escape her life of drudgery by dressing as a man. Through a rare stroke of luck, she becomes one of the guards of the king's harem in a lavish palace in the capital city, and eventually manages to make a life for herself: one that ultimately includes a husband and children. Shekiba, at the turn of the 20th century, and her great-great-granddaughter, Rahima, in modern-day Afghanistan, have parallel destinies. Rahima relishes her newfound freedom as a boy-but when she is of marriageable age, her freedom ends. She and her sisters are sold in marriage to the family of a local warlord. Facing a dark reality with an abusive family, can she ever become accustomed to the way a woman must behave? Can she adapt and overcome like her great-aunt, Shekiba? And if she can't-will she survive? A riveting, poignant tale about family, freedom and determination, perfect for readers of A Thousand Splendid Suns or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I was pulled into this story from the very beginning and couldn't stop reading until I was done. I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and A Thousand Splendid Suns and read this one with even more interest than the other two. I can't believe this a debut novel. Nadia Hashimi writes like that of a well-seasoned author and this is destined to become a bestseller for sure. I definitely didn't want this one to end and hope that there will be some sort of sequel. What a powerful read this was and one I won't soon forget!
Date published: 2014-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book Very good book. Unbelievable story and Linda is truly an inspiration to us all.
Date published: 2013-03-25

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Editorial Reviews

“Hashimi weaves together two equally engrossing stories in her epic, spellbinding debut.”