Lately I’ve found several that drew me into their worlds and kept me there, entranced by the story and eager to know what happened to the characters.
The Pearl that Broke its Shell
The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi is one of those books that will stay in my mind for a long time. The stories of two Afghan women are woven together, showing the similarities of struggle and hardship they faced, even though they lived nearly 100 years apart.
Rahima is one of five daughter living under Taliban rule. Their drug-addicted father does nothing to support his family, and their only option is to use the ancient custom of bacha posh, or dressing a daughter like a son until she reaches marriageable age. Rahima is chosen for this role, and as a boy, can freely attend school, visit the market, or even just leave the house.
It comes to an end when a vicious warlord sees her and wants her as a wife. Just thirteen, her father gives her in marriage. Her life has gone from difficult drudgery to near slavery. Her aunt buoys her spirits with tales of her great-great grandmother, who also lived as bacha posh to build a life for herself.
The Pearl that Broke its Shell is difficult reading at time, as the conditions and hopelessness of the women’s lives is both heartbreaking and enraging. What emerges is a testimony to hope, that escapes can be found in the most unlikely ways. And that bad events may be what is needed to gain the courage to make a change.
I had been resisting Amish fiction for years. But the enduring popularity of the genre made me wonder. So I decided to give it a try.
The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher is a romance starring Julia, whose fiancé has just postponed their wedding for the second time. It becomes clear to her that Paul’s cold feet are likely to be permanent. Then she finds out Rome, the Bee Man, was responsible for Paul’s change of heart.
How Julia navigates her family’s growing financial problems and deals with her conflicted feelings for both Paul and Rome is a sweet story. It wrapped up a little too neatly, but that’s a minor flaw. If you like clean romance, this is a great choice for you.
Contact Us by Al Macy is a new twist on the aliens-have-arrived theme. Everyone on Earth sneezes, at the exact same time. Before sense can be made of that event, an alien spacecraft appears and broadcasts a message of death and destruction. Bizarrely, the message is from an alien who has taken on the form of Walter Cronkite.
The alien seems to be both threatening and offering to be Earth’s only hope against another alien ship which is hovering around Jupiter. Jake Corby, ex-FBI troubleshooter, is called out of retirement to help the President’s team defeat the alien threats. The struggle to understand the motives of the alien before he causes more destruction kept my attention till the very last word.
Rift by Andreas Christensen is an interesting twist on a dystopian theme. A few hundred years after the disaster, it appears society has been rebuilt. The main characters are mostly several young people who have reached the age when they are assigned their roles in life. Most of the options aren’t very appealing, but some better than others. The smartest are chosen to be Students, the strongest, Janissaries, soldiers who defend the land’s northern borders. Others are chosen to be Wardens, who guard the western border and the Rift, the border of the wastelands. Others are sent to the Corpus, where they toil as slaves. Those not chosen live out their lives, but at fifty they are put to death. No resources can be wasted on those who can’t produce.
Sue and her friends are selected to be Janissaries and Wardens. They quickly learn that much of what they’ve learned was a lie. The more secrets she uncovers, the greater danger she finds herself in.
The world building got me hooked, and the characters kept me interested. This was so enjoyable I got the second book. Then I found out that the RIFT series follows another one. I’m intrigued enough to want to read that one as well.