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Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao


Overview -

2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist: Best Fiction, Best Debut Author
Longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

"Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world." -- Vogue

"A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies." --The Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.  Read more...


 
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More About Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
 
 
 
Overview

2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist: Best Fiction, Best Debut Author
Longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

"Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world." --Vogue

"A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies." --The Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.

Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother's death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls' perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Shobha Rao's Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781250074256
  • ISBN-10: 1250074258
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • Publish Date: March 2018
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Cultural Heritage

 
BookPage Reviews

Sisterhood, against all odds

At the core of Shobha Rao’s magnificent and heart-wrenching debut novel is a unique friendship forged between two young women from a small Indian village. Poornima and Savitha’s bond sustains them despite insurmountable odds; their first obstacle is simply being born into a community that celebrates the births of sons but considers daughters as objects to be married off as soon as possible.

After 15-year-old Poornima’s mother dies and the traditional year of mourning has passed, her father contacts the local matchmaker to find her a suitable husband. At the same time, Poornima meets Savitha, who is a year older than Poornima and from an even poorer family. With three younger sisters, a chronically ill father and a mother who cleans houses, Savitha is forced to scour the garbage dumps daily for food, or perhaps something to sell.

Poornima’s father, a sari weaver, is looking for someone to sit at his dead wife’s loom to help increase his output, so Savitha fills that position and becomes Poornima’s close friend. Despite her dire circumstances, Savitha is full of joy and hope—feelings that Poornima has all but forgotten.

When a probable match for Poornima is found in a distant village, the girls plan ways to stay in touch after the marriage. But suddenly Savitha becomes the victim of a horrific crime, and she disappears—without telling Poornima where she is going.

Rao fills the second half of her captivating novel with the devastating circumstances that engulf these young women over the next several years. From extreme cruelty to kidnapping and entrapment in a sexual slavery ring, each traumatic experience keeps them separated by thousands of miles, and finding a way to meet again seems impossible.

Girls Burn Brighter focuses an enlightening lens on contemporary headlines that often seem abstract. Readers of Rao’s vital, vibrant novel will not soon forget these two strong, driven young women.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Behind the Book essay from Shobha Rao on Girls Burn Brighter.

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews