Reading about different cultures is fascinating. I have sort of done it before this book, but this one made me realize how fascinating it is.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi is a book centered on the lives of two women from Afghanistan. Rahima is only able to attend school on a regular basis by engaging in an ancient custom known as bacha posh, something her great aunt Shekiba did a century before her. Bacha posh allows Rashima to dress as a boy and have people treat her as one until she reaches a marriageable age. Thus, she can attend school, go to the market, and act as a chaperone to her older sisters.
What happens, though, when that ends? What happened to Shekiba all those years ago? Well, you will just have to read The Pearl That Broke Its Shell to find out.
Throughout the book I went back and forth trying to figure out how I felt about the situation. It was hard to really think clearly about it, because while I felt really uncomfortable with the customs and such that these women had to deal with, I had to think about if that was just…the way it was. That last bit sounds confusing, no? Well, it was supposed to sound confusing. I mean to say that I was not sure what to think about reading about another culture because it is exactly that: another culture.
For my money though, and my experience, there is no way I would personally stand for what happened to those women. I would not be okay with that happening to me. With that said, it is the culture there. I know how the women in the book reacted, but would everyone be okay with change?
I cannot say that it is wrong. Watching the submissive positions women are put in though, does not sit right in my views. I crave the equality. I do not see complete equality even in my own world, but the difference and inequality is, I find, even more pronounced in The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. In this book, it seems that people believe women are only good for having children, and even then, no one really treats them well unless they bear a son.
It seems like the people in this book do not realize that women have no control over the gender of their child. Well, technically men do not have control considering they cannot say to the boy sperm that they want that one. They are the ones, however, who have the different chromosomes that determine gender (x and y). Women do not. Thus, why do men seem to blame the women (at least in books and history)?
Overall, I think this book is an interesting read, particularly if you are interested in other cultures as well as history. Let me know what you think about The Pearl That Broke Its Shell! I look forward to discussing it with you in the comments. This book is definitely one of those that would bring forward many questions, some of which people would find controversial. Thus, it opens in-depth discussions!
Title: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
Author: Nadia Hashimi
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)