A vivid, unforgettable story of an unlikely sisterhood—an emotionally powerful and haunting story of friendship that illuminates the plight of women in a traditional culture, from the author of the bestselling The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and When the Moon Is Low.
For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed.
Awaiting trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: eighteen-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an “honor killing”; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, a teen runaway who stays because it is safe shelter; twenty-year-old Mezghan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for a court order to force her lover’s hand. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, like them, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment; removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.
Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his homeland have brought him back. With the fate this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like the Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.
A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women, The House with No Windows is astonishing, frightening, and triumphant.
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by William Morrow (first published August 15th 2016)
ISBN 0062449680 (ISBN13: 9780062449689)
About the Author
Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Nadia made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents. She is a pediatrician and lives with her family in the Washington, DC, suburbs.
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I suppose this bloody mess might partly be my fault.Zeba has been a good wife, mother, daughter and neighbor (although, because she is the daughter of a sorceress, there is a wariness between her and the rest of her extended family), but her marriage has continued to degrade over the years. Her once doting husband has become abusive, neglectful of the family, drinking away their food money. Then one day Zeba is found over his dead body with no memory of what happened, and the village calls for her blood.
The chief of police arrests Zeba and quickly takes her to the women's prison for her own safety, knowing the villagers may come for justice. Zeba is roomed with three other women: Latifa, Nafisa and Mezhgan. Women are housed in this prison for all sorts of crimes, but many are there for "love crimes"-- adultery, falling in love with the wrong man, being caught alone with a man unsupervised, etc. Most have been found to have brought dishonor to their families. While Zeba awaits her trial, she befriends these women and becomes like a sister to them. She learns their stories, their likes and dislikes, their pain and fear, and their passions.
Yusuf was once an Afghan boy, his family having immigrated to America when he was about twelve. Now he is an attorney who has returned to his homeland and has been hired as Zeba's council. As if her case weren't difficult enough, Yusuf finds his hands tied by her refusal to share with him anything she remembers about the day her husband died, nor about their life together leading up to his death.
I was introduced to the author with her book When the Moon is Low, and I loved this one just as much as I did that one. The author has an engaging yet easy-to-read writing style.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:
Wednesday, May 17th: Real Life Reading
Wednesday, May 17th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, May 18th: Helen’s Book Blog
Friday, May 19th: Tina Says…
Monday, May 22nd: Reading is My Super Power
Tuesday, May 23rd: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, May 24th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, May 26th: Read Her Like an Open Book
Monday, May 29th: Based on a True Story
Tuesday, May 30th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, May 31st: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, June 1st: G. Jacks Writes
Friday, June 2nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
TBD: Book by Book
My final word: The author has a very "approachable" writing style which is very comfortable to read, like slipping into a pair of comfy PJs at the end of a hard day. She knows how to write well-fleshed characters of some depth that pull you into the story and keep you there. This story runs the gamut of happiness to melancholy, love to hate, fear of the present to dreams for the future.You care not only for Zeba and Yusuf and their futures, but for the lives of the other women who share Zeba's life in prison. A beautiful yet heart-wrenching tale that I recommend to anyone who loves to immerse themselves into another culture.
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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.
I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.