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The Pearl That Broke Its Shell Audiobook, by Nadia Hashimi Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Nadia Hashimi Narrator: Gin Hammond Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2014 ISBN: 9781483006765
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Afghan American Nadia Hashimi’s literary debut 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 chaperon 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 That 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 age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author of 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

  • “Hashimi’s debut novel takes the trope of a girl disguising herself as a boy and places it within Kabul circa 2007. The story is timeless, weaving the tale of present character Rahima and her ancestor Shekiba. The social culture of Kabul and the tradition of being a ‘bacha posh’ makes the story rich, while the use of dialogue allows for a cinematic quality.”

    RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

  • “Hashimi’s first novel tells the story of two young Afghan women, separated by a century, who disguise themselves as boys in order to survive…Alternating between Rahima and Shekiba’s stories, Hashimi weaves together two equally engrossing stories in her epic, spellbinding debut.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Hammond’s soft delivery and gentle cadence keep listeners engaged…Her tender treatment of the narrative contrasts effectively with the merciless society the girls grow up in. She shifts fluidly between the present day and the extended flashbacks to the life of an elder aunt, keeping the listener oriented between the two stories.”


  • “Set in Afghanistan, this emotionally engaging first novel uses alternating chapters to weave together the story of nine-year-old Rahima and her sisters with that of their great-great-grandmother Shekiba…Hashimi succeeds in crafting a novel that incorporates gripping stories of survival with passionate tales of motherhood and inner strength throughout. Filled with tragedy and triumph, this work is sure to be appreciated by readers who enjoy similarly told stories with strong protagonists.”

    Library Journal

  • “Hashimi’s debut novel nimbly alternates between Shekiba’s and Rahima’s tales, drawing disturbing parallels between two women separated by a century. A lyrical, heartbreaking account of silenced lives.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents. She is a pediatrician and the author of three books for adults, as well as the middle-grade novels One Half from the East and The Sky at Our Feet

About the Narrator

Gin Hammond received her MFA from the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre School. A native of San Diego, she has worked steadily across the country at theaters such as the Guthrie, Arena Stage, the Longwharf Theatre, ACT, the Pasadena Playhouse, ART, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and the Studio Theatre. She has also performed internationally at the Moscow Art Theatre and the Roadside Theatre in Heidelberg, Germany. Additionally, Ms. Hammond is a grant recipient of the Ford Mellon Foundation for her work on a multicultural anthology of plays, under the auspices of Ms. Ruby Dee.