“Expertly depicting the anxiety and excitement that accompanies a new life, Hashimi’s gripping page-turner is perfect for book clubs.”—Library Journal (starred review)
Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.
Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.
Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 21st 2015 by William Morrow (first published June 30th 2015)
ISBN 0062369571 (ISBN13: 9780062369574)
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My fate was sealed in blood on the day of my birth. As I struggled to enter this twisted world, my mother resigned it, taking with her my chances of being a true daughter.Fereiba grows up a young woman of Afghanistan. She never knew her mother, who died during her birth, but was left in the care of a loving father who quickly remarried to give his children a mother to care for them. Her step-mother Kokogul cares for her husband's children and is even kind or praising at times, but there is little she does that isn't self-motivated. She's always looking out for her own best interests, or those of her own biological children.
Fereiba is surrounded by a cloud of death. With the loss of her mother, she is viewed as cursed and her community keeps her at arm's length. Fereiba finds solace in her father's orchards, which is where she meets the neighbor boy Hamoud. With the orchard wall separating them and unable to lay eyes on one another, a young love affair blooms through their words. But as always is in Fereiba's life, tragedy strikes and love is taken from her.
But Fereiba eventually rediscovers love with Mahmood, an engineer. Together they grow a deep and tender connection, and a strong foundation for their growing family, all while their world is changing. The Taliban has been taking hold in Afghanistan, offering stability and security to a people who have been ravaged by war for so long. As the Taliban takes control, both men and women begin to bend under their strict laws. Fereiba must cover herself in public, she is forced to give up her job and cannot go out in public alone, and young girls may no longer attend school.
Then tragedy strikes once again as Fereiba loses her beloved Mahmood, and makes the decision to escape Afghanistan in an attempt to save her children and herself. And so begins their long journey to England.
I really liked this story. Your heart yearns for Fereiba to find love and security, and later as they desperately seek to find that in England, you find yourself yearning the same for her eldest child-- her son Saleem.
Love grows wilder in the gardens of hardship.I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:
Tuesday, April 26th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, April 27th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, April 28th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, May 2nd: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Tuesday, May 3rd: Lit and Life
Wednesday, May 4th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, May 9th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Tuesday, May 10th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, May 11th: Literary Feline
Thursday, May 12th: Ms. Nose in a Book
My final word: I really enjoyed this book. The characters are rich and the author's writing is effortless and beautiful and moving. It is fascinating to watch the world around Fereiba change as the Taliban gains a foothold. She goes from an educated young girl with the world in front of her to a woman hidden from that same world behind fabric and walls. But despite such hardships and tragedies in her life, she is a woman full of love and determination, driven to find safety and opportunity for her children. If you love books that allow you to explore other cultures, if you would like to see how Afghanistan used to be compared to what it has become, if you want to better understand why the Afghanistan people are some of the most loved in the world (known for their hospitality and generosity), this one is for you. Just lovely!
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The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.