ARC Review

Heartbreakingly Hopeful Journey of a Young Girl from The Turmoil of Afghanistan |ARC Review: Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives. 

Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured. 

New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost. 

Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.

If you haven’t still read Nadia Hashimi’s books then you have no idea the emotional roller coaster you are missing out on.

I found Nadia Hashimi with The Sky At Our Feet (Read My Review) at the start of my blogging journey; and till date, her voice and her narration makes that beautiful heartbreaking book to be one of my all time favourites as well as a definite recommendation, especially if I want new readers to be introduced to a new voice that they *Need* to read.

So, Sparks Like Stars was already gel with high expectations – and like before, Ms. Hashimi doesn’t disappoint with the heartbreakingly hopeful story that she tells to her readers in the background of the start of the coup in Afghanistan.

Told in the PoV of Sitara, in the year 1978; where she lives a carefree life with her parents and her brother. Her father, is a close adviser to the then President of Afghanistan and she has grown up with her best friends; the grandchildren of the President at the palace.

What she doesn’t know, what she never ever expects, is that her life, as she knows it, is going to end soon. She and her family have the misfortune of being at the palace, when the rebel forces successfully undertake a murderous coup against the President. Sitara sees her family murdered in front of her eyes by a guard whom her family trusted.

And in a cruel twist of fate, the same guard, in a rare show of consciousness, saves her and gets her out of the palace undetected. Risking his own life, and that of his family’s; he protects her until he hands her off to two American women to try and get her out of there country.

Fast forward to 2008, Sitara is now a successful oncology surgeon and lives a somewhat content life in the US. Until she meets face to face with the one man whom she blames for her own tragic past. She now knows that she cannot rest until she knows exactly what happened to her family back in 1978.

Told in parts; as readers we find ourselves engrossed in Sitara’s innocent voice in 1978 – the harrowing journey she undergoes, just to survive after a tragedy that she can never get over. The strength of the young girl shines through; on every single page.

And while the transition to her life in the US is a bit abrupt; it’s the author’s talent of using the backdrop of a country in turmoil and the political crisis within Afghanistan to seamlessly showcase the tragic events in the life that leaves a devastating impact on the reader, one that they won’t forget anytime soon.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 


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