The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi is $1.99 as a BN deal, and it's being price matched by Amazon and other retailers. This is a historical/contemporary parallel story, about an Afghani young woman who lived her life as a boy, and her ancestor who did the same thing. It has a 4.3-star average on GR, and readers describe it as lyrically written, haunting, and powerful.
Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.
In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.
But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.
Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?
The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan is $1.99 at Amazon right now. This is also an historical fiction/contemporary parallel story about a young orphan rescued after a hurricane with a medal representing a Spanish convent around her neck. When she journeys to Spain to discover her history, she learns of other young women in the 16th century who, like her, were adrift in the world. This book has a 3.6-star average on Goodreads, and readers found the history of the women from the 1500s particularly compelling. The reviews mention some romance – and I can think of several readers I know who might love this book for weekend reading.
Menina Walker was a child of fortune. Rescued after a hurricane in South America, doomed to a life of poverty with a swallow medal as her only legacy, the orphaned toddler was adopted by an American family and taken to a new life.
As a beautiful, intelligent woman of nineteen, she is in love, engaged, and excited about the future — until another traumatic event shatters her dreams. Menina flees to Spain to bury her misery in research for her college thesis about a sixteenth-century artist who signed his works with the image of a swallow — the same image as the one on Menina’s medal.
But a mugging strands Menina in a musty, isolated Spanish convent. Exploring her surroundings, she discovers the epic sagas of five orphan girls who were hidden from the Spanish Inquisition and received help escaping to the New World. Is Menina’s medal a link to them, or to her own past? Did coincidence lead her to the convent, or fate?
Both love story and historical thriller, The Sisterhood is an emotionally charged ride across continents and centuries.
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas is $1.99. This is a nonfiction humorous memoir (which you knew since it says Memoir in the title – sorry). This book has a 3.7-star average on Goodreads. Dumas moved to the US from Iran when she was a girl, and her life as chronicled in this book is a mix of culture shock and hilarity. The cover copy about how Thanksgiving turkey tastes like nothing made me snort my coffee. I'm guessing some of your catnip alarms are going off along with mine!
In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’s glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since.
Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.
In a series of deftly drawn scenes, we watch the family grapple with American English (hot dogs and hush puppies?—a complete mystery), American traditions (Thanksgiving turkey?—an even greater mystery, since it tastes like nothing), and American culture (Firoozeh’s parents laugh uproariously at Bob Hope on television, although they don’t get the jokes even when she translates them into Farsi).
Above all, this is an unforgettable story of identity, discovery, and the power of family love. It is a book that will leave us all laughing—without an accent.
A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir if $1.99. This is historical fiction/mystery set in the Tower of London among four young people who are threats to the monarchy. This book has a 3.6-star average, and readers enjoyed the vividness of the setting, and the tension of the mystery, but often felt that the author was restating her case against Richard III.
England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners.
A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again.
Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch.