And yet both are so parallel. It's an eye-opening look at how very little has changed for women in Afghanistan in 100 years. The past heroine is beaten, abused, ridiculed, treated like dirt, given no rights...and so is the modern-day one.
There's a serious need for some progress.
Rahima is the modern heroine. Her father is addicted to opium and is like every other man in Afghanistan (See * note below)--he beats his wife, hates the fact he has daughters, cries about the lack of a son, and keeps his household of women away from school. An ignorant woman is a woman who doesn't know better and thus, will never fight back.
She's dressed in pants and turned into a boy for her childhood, just so someone can run out and go to market and do this and that.
But when it comes to marry...and at the tender age of thirteen, this makes a problem for Rahima as she must give up all her freedom and enter a jail of sorts--her husband's house. Her husband is a warlord and just like every other man in Afghanistan apparently, beats his women, keeps them ignorant and shut in...
But my favorite heroine is Shekiba. Oh, she gets beaten; she cowers at times, she is uneducated, but her strength comes from her determination to persevere and though it comes to nothing, I admire her for speaking up for herself. Doesn't matter if no one listens. She tries. With a disfigured face, she's constantly ridiculed and made fun of--by her family, by the villagers, by the palace. When her entire family dies, she tries to obtain the land. When she's sent to the king's palace to guard the harem, she adapts, stands tall and proud in her pants.
I was completely and totally engrossed in this novel though, despite the fact it is one depressing occurrence after another. What I took from this story though was: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. I gave up on hope for the heroines 3/4 in the novel. I actually became sad and depressed from reading this. I said, "You should just curl into a ball and die." At what point does a woman have enough abuse and injustice?
The point is, I gave up before the heroines did, and I shouldn't have. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE.
My one quibble, if you could call it that, is... *no offense to the people of Afghanistan, but this story made it seem as though 95% of the population is just pure evil. ALL husbands beat their wives, ALL MILS (except maybe one) beat their daughter-in-laws, everyone backstabs and betrays. Every single time a new character was introduced, I sat back and waited for the first blow. The only good people until the very end, it seems, are the heroines and an aunt. When a co-worker asked me what I was reading, I replied with, "A book about Hell on earth, apparently."
But this also hit home how people who have known nothing but abuse become abusers themselves. Take Rahima's MIL for example...
But the book is very, very well written. Impeccable. This is a writer who can suck you right in. When you set the book down, you have to blink a few times, remember where you are, that you haven't just been thrown in a jail cell for a crime someone else committed, that your husband didn't just beat you to an inch of your life...
And it made me see what all I take for granted--not that I'll settle. Women need to progress everywhere.
Another strong point in this book:
--It's easy to be brainwashed and controlled when are uneducated and cut off from the outside world. Don't let this happen to you. Get educated, ladies.
Highly recommended. It's a lot of misery, but worth it. Don't let the bad happenings deter you. We all have bad things in our lives. What's important is to remember the light at the end of the tunnel, and if Rahima has one, so can you.
I received this via Amazon Vine.