Happy Black Friday everybody! I hope that everybody had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with their families and hopefully you’re not hitting the Black Friday sales too hard, unless you want to be of course! Like the past few years, I’m making it my goal to not step foot in a mall this whole Christmas season if I can help it! Instead, I’m planning to do the bulk of my shopping online and wait for all of those boxes to come in the mail!

The Wandering Weekenders- Beyond Words A Blogger's Book Club

It’s so hard to believe that November is almost over, which then means that the year is almost over, and that it’s time for another Beyond Words: A Blogger’s Book Club linkup with Carolann and Christy! Earlier this year I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and I was so incredibly moved by this book. It was so interesting to read about the Afghan culture and horrifying to read what this country has been through with all of the war and destruction. So when the SCWBC16 came out and one of the categories was to read a book written by somebody that’s a different race or religion than you, I immediately thought of another Khaled Hosseini book. Unfortunately I didn’t own any of his other books, but I did own The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, which is also set in Afghanistan and written by an Afghan American. Plus the fact that Erin had written such a fantastic review about helped to seal the deal for me. When Carolann asked for recommendations for this month’s book, I selfishly suggested The Pearl That Broke Its Shell since I was already planning on reading it, and I’m so glad that it was selected this month!

The Wandering Weekenders- Beyond Words: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi is set in Afghanistan in 2007 after the Taliban had been defeated by the United States. Even though the Taliban was defeated the threat of war and bombs is still very much a constant fear for the people of Afghanistan, and women’s rights are still very much limited because of the culture. Rahima is a young girl living in a small village in Afghanistan, and with four other sisters, her prospects are very limited, especially with a father that’s addicted to drugs. While Rahima and her two older sisters attend school sporadically, her aunt one day convinces her mother that Rahima really needs an education to make a life for herself by telling them the story of her great aunt Shekiba who dealt with some of the same issues.

When her mother is finally convinced, Rahima becomes a bacha posh a common Afghan custom, meaning that she dressed and is treated like a boy until she becomes of age. When Rahima becomes a boy, she realizes how much freedom she has and all that she is capable of doing, so when her bacha posh world comes crashing down around her, she must quickly learn what it’s like to be a woman in Afghanistan again. Rahima is not the only one that has dealt with the bacha posh world before though. Throughout her life and hardships, Rahima’s aunt continuously tells her the story of her great aunt Shekiba, and both of their stories are perfectly interwoven throughout the book.

Just like The Kite Runner, I found this book to absolutely fascinating. I always love reading about cultures that are different than my own because I really feel like you can learn a lot, and I definitely learned a lot while reading this book. The biggest thing that I learned was how thankful I am to live in the United States where I don’t have to worry about not being able to go out in public without my husband, that I can have my own voice and opinion, and that my dad didn’t sell me to the highest bidder to feed an addiction.

I also liked how the chapters switched perspectives between Rahima and Shekiba. There are a lot of books that do this, and sometimes it works really well, and other times it will inhibit the story. For The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, the different perspectives enhanced the story. It was crazy to see how even though 100 years had passed, these women were still dealing with the same issues and struggles, and how women were still very much limited in what they could do and say. If you think back to what the United States was like 100 years ago women weren’t allowed to vote and didn’t have a lot of the same rights as men. Could you imagine if things were still like that today?

Another aspect of the book that I found really interesting was to read about the difference between life in the big cities, mainly the capital city of Kabul, versus life in the surrounding provinces. Customs were taken a lot more seriously in the small villages while in Kabul women in general had more freedoms, even if they were still limited. For example, Shekiba wasn’t allowed to venture out in public in her village without a man, while she was able to go and see somebody speak in Kabul by herself.

The final aspect of the book that I found to be very interesting was the relationships between all the different women in the book. Both Shekiba and Rahima struggled with the how their husbands’ other wives treated them. It was amazing to me how abusive these women could be towards each other, even though they were all in the same boat when it came to dealing with their sometimes abusive husbands. Maybe it was a cultural thing to be every woman for herself, but I would have thought that there could have been a little more strength in numbers or a solidarity sisters type of thing.

Overall, this was another one of my favorite books of the year, and I gave it a solid 5/5 stars on Goodreads. It was fascinating to me to read about another culture and to see how things hadn’t really changed in Afghanistan even though 100 years had passed between Shekiba and Rahima. But be prepared to be horrified too. These women were very much abused by our cultural standards, and it was tough to read how they were treated like property and beaten and continuously pushed down. If reading about other cultures interests you, I definitely recommend picking up The Pearl That Broke Its Shell.

Have you read any good books lately? Do you like reading about other cultures?

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  • Nicole F

    I really enjoyed this book as well. But it was disturbing and gave me nightmares during that time. I love to read about different cultures especially where women are treated considerably worse than in America. You might find interest in authors like Lisa See where you will find similar struggles and female relationships. Reading books like these makes me so very appreciative that I am an American woman. And to open my eyes to what it means to be a women in other cultures. Good pick!

    • I totally agree with everything that you said! Reading about other cultures opens your eyes to how other people see the world, and it also makes you very appreciative for your way of life. I could never imagine being sold off to a man that would basically terrorize me my whole life. I’ve never heard of Lisa See, but I”m definitely going to look into her and try to get one of her books!

      • Nicole F

        My recommendation is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. You won’t be disappointed if you liked The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell.

  • I skipped over this review for now because I just got the book from the library yesterday (the same thing happened last month with Homegoing, haha), so I’m reading it late, but I’m really excited to read it soon. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Thank you! We had a great Thanksgiving, and I hope that yours was great too! I read this book so quickly, and I hope that you end up loving it as much as I did! I can’t wait for your review!

  • Ashley, I am so mortified! The book club linkup completely skipped my mind this week. I only remembered when I saw your post. I feel terrible for not getting my post up, especially since you wrote such a thoughtful review. I absolutely loved this book and only recently finished it, so it’s crazy to me that I forgot to write my review. I am really sorry and I will write it tonight or tomorrow and get the linkup going on Monday.

    It took me a while to read this book and I felt like Rahima and Shekiba became my friends. One thing that I also found really interesting and also really sad about this book was the relationships between the women, as you mentioned. It seemed to me like that was maybe a cultural thing, as Rahima’s mother-in-law talks about how she was treated by her own mother-in-law. But also I think it is a survival thing. If the first wife can constantly put down the other wives, she can look better to her mother-in-law and her husband and not have to worry about getting kicked out.

    What did you think about the ending?

    Also, have you read A Thousand Splendid Suns? It focused on a relationship between two women that I think you would find interesting. It’s my favorite book by Khaled Hosseini.

    Again, I’m so sorry about this month and I will get the word out ASAP for Monday. I think we’re going to skip a December book and shoot for January. Do you have any recommendations? You’re on a roll!

    • Don’t even worry about it! Things got so hectic during the holidays, and I think that taking a break during the month of December will be good and it gives us a longer time to read our next book! We’re actually doing the same thing for my book club at work!

      I haven’t read A Thousand Splendid Suns yet, but I’ve heard from so many different people that it’s their favorite Khaled Hosseini, so it definitely needs to go on my list! I absolutely loved The Kite Runner, but like you said I think that I really enjoyed reading about the different relationships between the women.

      I think that I was kind of happy with the ending, but kind of not at the same time. I mean I liked the fact that Rahima and Shekiba both ended up happy, but it still left me wanting more, especially when it came to Rahima’s storyline. I wanted to know what she did after she left!

      As far as recommendations for our next book, our book club at work just started reading The Shadow Of The Wind, and I’m only about 100 pages in and it’s so good! I’ve heard really good things about Taylor Jenkins Reid books like One True Loves, so that might be something a little different than what we have been reading lately.

  • Living on Cloud Nine

    This looks totally fascinating to me as well! Your reviews are always spot on so I am super excited to check it out. I had a minor in Sociology and my dream was to be a Sociolgy professor so the dynamics of other cultures are right up my alley!!

    • If other cultures interest you, you definitely need to check this book out! It’s so beautifully written, and it’ll really make you appreciate being an American woman as well! The dynamic between all of the women is really interesting as well!

  • Jen

    What an interesting read this sounds like! It’s going on my list!

  • This is one of those books I wouldn’t have picked up, but thanks to your review, I’ll definitely add it to the list

    • I totally wouldn’t have thought of it either unless Erin had recommended it! That’s one of the best things about blogging, getting so many great recommendations from books to beauty supplies to movies! I hope that you get to pick it up soon!

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