I don’t know about you, but I had only recently heard of the Afghan practice of bacha posh, and I hadn’t even heard the term until this book. I had no idea what I was getting into.
I have to say that what I loved the most about the book was that it was composed of parallel stories in two different eras in Afghanistan. Hashimi paints an interesting picture of both times and what the expectations and demands of women were in them. She digs past the stereotypes that we hear of Afghanistan during both times to the different lives that many women lead.Then she layers in the practice of bacha posh, where a girl is dressed as a boy and takes the reader on a journey beyond the village and tribal practices that we have a tendency to focus on here and into the palaces and cities that many Americans act like aren’t in Afghanistan at all. We also get to meet women that are both happy with their lives and stuck in their circumstances. We meet women who persevere but she doesn’t shy away from mentioning that true atrocities are happening to women and girls there.
The story by itself was enjoyable but, for me, overshadowed by the exploration into the lives of women that the books takes us on that because that part went well beyond the dual protagonists.
I was so glad that I listened to the audiobook too, rather than try to pronounce everything on my own. I feel like I may have not gotten the tone of certain things right because some of the expressions are so different. I just may not have gotten the sarcasm as well as having it performed for me. I know it sounds lazy, but it’s my first foray into fiction of this nature and I feel like it worked out for the best this way. Gin Hammond was the narrator and she was amazing!
Note: I had first heard of bacha posh, though only the practice, from browsing the bookstore and coming upon this book that I have no my to-read list as well: The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan – Jenny Nordberg