Nadia Hashimi has made me fall in love with yet another of her wonderfully written stories. I knew I was hooked on this author. It’s a compelling tale of survival and I’ve not read a book that has explored so closely the flight of individuals from war torn countries.
This is a soulful book, Afghanistan has a tumultuous history and Hashimi’s characters experience both the highs and lows as they take you along with them. She creates characters that make you fall in love with them, makes you empathize with them, feel happy in their triumph and sad in their losses.
The story will thrust the reader into the world of Fereiba; her difficult childhood, heartbreaking adolescence, successful marriage, the return of misery as a wife and mother. It’s an almost first-hand experience of what it will be like for a mother and three children to escape from the Taliban’s Afghanistan—after her husband (Mahmood) was taken—and cross several countries unfriendly as refugees. Her two youngest children, do not quite grasp their perilous predicament, but her oldest son, Saleem, realizes that life will never be the same.
Told in alternating narratives, we follow along with Fereiba and Saleem as they struggle together and separately, across nations. The family endures numerous obstacles as they forge ahead despite the heartbreaking setbacks. Language barriers, financial issues, the stab of hunger pangs, a teenager acting as patriarch as he desperately provides and protects his family. A mother plagued with guilt and second guesses determined to carve a new life for her family, and I am going to take a moment to admire Samira who might not have said a word throughout the novel but is such a fierce, resolute and supportive sibling.
A narrative that causes you to pause and count your blessings, keeping those with less in your thoughts as they navigate their way through a passage to safety leaving everything and everyone known behind entering an unfamiliar but hopeful abyss. The ending is symbolic in a way that is quite exciting.
“It’s never easy to leave one’s home, especially when there are closed doors ahead of you.”