I read Sparks Like Stars on the heels of The Four Winds, and it was just a coincidence but reading them back to back and devouring them both made me realize that (1) I am into historical fiction and (2) women surviving against all odds is a story I can immediately get into. Hashimi takes us through a young woman’s survival set against the modern history of Afghanistan. I could not put it down.
For many Americans I think that our only exposure to Afghanistan is the war, Osama bin Ladin, and deserts/caves. Nadia Hashimi does a beautiful job of showing us Afghanistan through Sitara’s eyes,how much she loves her family and her country. I wanted to see the city and the palaces, eat at the restaurants and shop at the markets. The beauty will make the coup and the rest of Sitara’s journey that much more horrific, and you’ll be motivated to find justice and closure right alongside her.
My knowledge of Afghanistan is lacking and that’s putting it very lightly. Reading Sitara’s story helped me learn about the regime upheaval in the 1970s, not to mention the horrors of the foster care system here in the US (then and now). We also see her in post-9/11 New York amidst all the xenophobia and threats, and in 2008 she returns to try to find the bodies or her mother, father, and brother who were killed in the 1970s coup that she alone survived.
Sparks Like Stars is an intimate look into the past, present, and possible future of a country at the center of many historical conflicts, if we are willing to empathize and understand its people. It is so important to read more stories like this one, and I strongly recommend that you begin here. The more we understand cultures other than our own, the more tolerant and empathetic we can be overall. Reading Nadia Hashimi’s wonderful writing will set you on that path. Go get it right now.
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