Title: Sparks Like Stars
Author: Nadia Hashimi
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2nd March 2021
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.
It is impossible in this day and age to not know a little about Afghanistan but there is always so much more to learn and understand about a place and its history. I have to confess I knew relatively little about the 1970s events that part of Sparks Like Stars focussed on so I was really keen to pick this book up. The story begins with main character, Sitara living a happy and protected life in Kabul. This life is shattered with a bloody coup which costs Sitara everything. She is smuggled out of the palace by a guard and eventually ends up with a new life in America. Events then move on to New York in 2008 where Sitara has a new name Aryana and a career as a successful surgeon. However when the same guard who helped her escape as a child turns up, now an old man, in Aryana’s examination room she finds she cannot suppress her past and her need for answers any longer and embarks on a quest to find them.
Sparks Like Stars is one of those books that is immensely easy to read for a few reasons – mainly that it is beautifully written, full of elegance and eloquence. There is no shortage of trauma, pain and suffering in this novel, however it somehow manages to avoid feeling bleak or depressing. There is a hope and light in this story amidst the darkness which is yet another reason it is such a special read. Emotional, thought provoking and compelling. An insightful look at the far-reaching repercussions of childhood trauma. I would highly recommend.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
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