June 2, 2021
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Survival, Afghanistan, Asian-American Literature
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Nadia Hashimi, the author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, tells the story of Sitara Zamani who lives a privileged life in Kabul Afghanistan in 1978. Sitara’s father works for the progressive president and the children from the two families play together. When Sitara is ten years old, the communists stage a coup and Sitara is the only survivor. She is smuggled out of the palace by a sympathetic guard and into the home of an American diplomat. Years later while working as a successful surgeon in America, Sitara (now known as Aryana) is confronted with her past which causes her to ask questions and awakens strong feelings of anger and revenge.
I loved The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by the same author, so I put myself on the library holds list for this new release.
Diverse Read: I love that Nadia Hashimi shares a world and culture I know nothing about.
Writing: Told from one perspective over two time periods and settings (1978 Afghanistan and 2008 New York City), Sparks Like Stars is well-researched, brilliantly written with many vivid details and emotions, complex characters, and page-turning escape. Sparks Like Stars reads like a memoir. The first part of the story focuses on survival and escape and the second part focuses on finding answers, returning home, and acceptance. Hashimi’s experience as a physician and her family culture add authenticity and enhances this story.
Themes: Thought-provoking themes include love of country and family, a country at war, returning home for answers, escape, emigration experiences, starting a new life, grief, finding peace, survival, against-the-odds, compassion of strangers, and found family.
Highly recommended for fans of well-researched and compelling historical fiction, for readers who love against-the-odds stories, for those who appreciate page-turning and diverse reads, and for book clubs.
Content Considerations: Assassinations, grief
My Rating: 5 Stars
Meet the Author of Sparks Like Stars, Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician turned novelist who draws on her Afghan culture to craft internationally bestselling books for adults as well as young readers. Her novels span generations and continents, taking on themes like forced migration, conflict, poverty, misogyny, colonialism, and addiction. She enjoys conversations with readers of all ages in libraries, book festivals, classrooms, and living rooms. With translations in seventeen languages, she’s connected with readers around the world.
Nadia 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. Her mother, granddaughter of a notable Afghan poet, traveled to Europe to obtain a Master’s degree in civil engineering and her father came to the United States, where he worked hard to fulfill his American dream and build a new, brighter life for his immediate and extended family. Nadia was fortunate to be surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an integral part of their daily lives.
Nadia graduated from Brandeis University with degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. She studied medicine in Brooklyn, New York, and then completed her pediatric residency training at NYU and Bellevue hospitals before moving to Maryland with her husband. On days off from a busy emergency room and after years of avid reading, she began crafting stories that drew on her heritage and the complex experiences of Afghans.
In 2003, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents who had not returned to their homeland since leaving in the 1970s. She continues to serve on boards of organizations committed to educating and nurturing Afghanistan’s most vulnerable children and empowering the female leaders of tomorrow. She is a member of the US-Afghan Women’s Council and an advisor to Kallion, an organization that seeks to elevate leadership through humanities. Locally, she serves as a Montgomery County health care commissioner and organizing committee member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.
She and her husband are the beaming parents of four curious, rock star children, an African Grey parrot named Nickel who reminds the kids to brush their teeth, and Justice, the hungriest Rhodesian Ridgeback you’ve ever met.
Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or via her website (www.nadiahashimi.com) to learn more or request a virtual book club visit. She’s quite social.
Is Sparks Like Stars on your TBR or have you read it?
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