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The Pearl That Broke Its Shell


Nadia Hashimi


*Booklist Starred Review* Hashimi's first novel tells the story of two young Afghan women, separated by a century, who disguise themselves as boys in order to survive. In 2007, nine-year-old Rahima becomes a bacha posh, a girl who dresses as a boy, so that she can run to the market and escort her sisters when they leave the house. Rahima enjoys incredible freedoms as a boy, including attending school, but it all comes to an abrupt end when Abdul Khaliq, a vicious warlord, decides he wants her for his wife. Only 13 when she is forced to marry Abdul Khaliq, Rahima draws her strength from her Aunt's tales of her ancestor Shekiba, who as a young girl was scarred by kitchen oil and orphaned by an epidemic. Shekiba eventually found unlikely refuge in the royal palace in Kabul, dressing as a man to guard the king's harem. Alternating between Rahima and Shekiba's stories, Hashimi weaves together two equally engrossing stories in her epic, spellbinding debut. --Kristine Huntley





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