Words of Asia | The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi


For a listing to the links for all the other review posts for the Words of Asia blog event click here.

About the Authour:
Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. She currently lives in the States with her husband and their three children as well as their African Grey parrot. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was her debut novel, and her second novel, When the Moon Is Low is out late this year.


Where Does it Take Place?
Set in Kabul, readers get to travel back to some of the smaller rural villages as both women move around for different reasons. This also gives readers great insight into how life is vastly different for the women living in the big cities in Afghanistan compared with the women who live in rural villages, where it’s harder to monitor and regulate how things work and how women are treated.

What’s it About:
The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell is a story about two women from different generations who lives in Afghanistan. Shekiba who disguises herself as a boy once her parents and brothers pass away in order to protect herself from her father’s very traditional, and disapproving family. She is also Rahima’s great, great grandmother. In present day, we meet Rahima who is one of many girls in her family. As her family has no sons, and dad is sick and can’t be man of the house, her aunt comes up with the idea to disguise herself as a boy by telling Rahima the story of her great aunt, Shekiba.

My Thoughts:
I love reading about the experiences of women in South Asian countries, and when I heard about The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi I just knew that I had to read it. And I’m glad that I got the opportunity to read and review this important book on my blog.

While many of us may be somewhat aware of situation and often the mistreatment for many girls in Afghanistan, I wonder if many people also knew of the concept of bacha posh? I for one did not know about it. Bacha posh, is basically when young girls who haven’t reached puberty yet are allowed to dress up as boys which allows them a great deal of freedom that isn’t normally afforded to them as girls. I thought this was an interesting concept, and it was even more fascinating seeing two women taking part in bacha posh and how their experiences differed as they did it during different times and for different reasons.

Of the two women in the book, I found that Shekiba’s journey fascinated me more. I felt more invested in her character as she gets to experience many different things that were uncommon for women during her time. Though it’s unfortunate as to what happens to her, I think it illustrates the harsh reality for women during her time. So while I disagreed with her choice, and found it difficult to understand how she thought that would be the solution I kind of get her desire for more freedom. On the other hand, I was less interested in Rahima’s journey though she does go through her own set of hardships and tragedy. Nevertheless, I adored her relationship with with her Aunt Shaima. Shaima is the one who tells Rahima the story of her Great Aunt Shekiba and thus forms a connection between the two women. The Pearl that Broke Its Shell though is filled with much obstacles and hardships for both the women it’s about, is ultimately an uplifting story about earning your happy ending.

You’ll like this book, if you love:
Historical and literary fiction about the experiences of women living in countries where there is great inequality and they are viewed as “less than” men. Also if you love inspiring stories about women who find strength to live their restricted lives as much on their own terms as possible in the times and country they were born into.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nevertheless, regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.