It’s 1978 in Afghanistan. Young Sitara’s beloved father is an advisor to President Daoud Khan and her family were frequent visitors to the palace. The President’s grandchildren were close friends with Sitara and her younger brother. The palace was their playground. One day in April, the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan stages an attack against the President. Sitara manages to survive the coup after watching in horror as her family is murdered. Shair, one of the guards who turned on the President, helps Sitara escape the palace and places her with two American women.
The story shifts to 2008, New York City. Sitara, who now uses the name Aryana, is a renowned oncologist. While now a caring healer, she has never been able to fully heal from the trauma she experienced in her home country. A chance meeting with Shair, who is seeking medical help, brings up all her feelings about her loss, which she has hidden from most who know her. Was Shair the one who murdered her family? Why did he help save her? And where was her family buried? Her anger is reignited and she seeks answers in Kabul.
Sparks Like Stars by author Nadia Hashimi tells the complex story of Afghanistan’s history over the past few decades through the eyes of Sitara/Aryana. Her loss is tragic yet she is a strong woman who uses her memories of her family to guide her. The setting is not a part of the world I normally read about in novels making this book extremely interesting and all the more impactful. It was a slower than normal read because there were so many passages that I re-read for the beauty of the writing. I hope you will take the time and read this book.
Many thanks to William Morrow / HarperCollins and the Book Club Girl Early Reads program for the opportunity to read this moving book in advance of its publication.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 2, 2021.
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