The Pearl that Broke Its Shell
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a truly riveting account that highlights the struggles and oppression that Afghani women have suffered for centuries. The novel brilliantly presents the life of Rahima, a modern Afghani girl, interwoven with the life of her great-great-grandmother, Shekiba, a century earlier.
Rahima is struggling with a drug addict father and the traditional structure of Afghani society, which prohibits her from leaving home without a male family member. As such, Rahima and her sisters rarely leave the house, even for school. Her aunt Khala Shaima hopes to help Rahima by telling her the story of Shekiba, who dealt with many of the same issues that Rahima faces by using an ancient custom, bacha posh, which enabled her to get around the restrictions placed on Afghani girls. Bacha posh allows female children to become sons whereas they are dressed and treated as boys until they reach marriageable age. Khala Shaima uses the story of Shekiba to teach Rahima not only how to be a bacha posh but to impart to her niece something different than the traditional role of women, rather, she tells a story of empowerment and strength.
Hashimi gives readers a beautifully written narrative that is full of gripping honesty overlaid with admiration and respect. She uses the historical account to teach the modern girl how to be more independent and how to find self-worth and confidence. It is through the use of ancestral storytelling that a modern woman learns how and when to break from her shell.