The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel By Nadia Hashimi Cover Image
Email or call for price

Staff Reviews

Nadia Hashimi has been compared to Khaled Hosseini and Jhumpa Lahiri and she does write in that vein, but she truly has a voice of her own. This is a fascinating book of the lives of two Afghan women who live at different times, but are related in family and ideas. The pain of women in Afghanistan is just as vivid, but here there is strength and hope. Hope for the future and for their children. Both women have endured horrible living conditions at the hands of their husbands and society with little to protect them except the few relatives that offer them encouragement and a voice. To hear that voice in a story as achingly real is remarkable.

— From Rita's Picks


Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel 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-great grandmother, 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?

About the Author

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician turned international bestselling novelist and daughter of Afghan immigrants. She is the author of four books for adults, as well as the middle grade novels One Half from the East and The Sky at Our Feet. She lives with her family in the Washington, DC, suburbs. Visit her online at

Praise For…

“Nadia Hashimi has written, first and foremost, a tender and beautiful family story. Her always engaging multigenerational tale is a portrait of Afghanistan in all of its perplexing, enigmatic glory, and a mirror into the still ongoing struggles of Afghan women.” — Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner

“A fascinating look at the unspoken lives of Afghani women, separated by generations and miles, yet achingly similar. This is a story to transport you and make you think.” — Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter

“Hashimi weaves together two equally engrossing stories in her epic, spellbinding debut.” — Booklist (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062244765
ISBN-10: 0062244760
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 6th, 2015
Pages: 480
Language: English