Sparks Like Stars, begins as a simple story about a strong, intelligent young girl, with a loving family, living a truly exceptional life. Set in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, Sitara’s father is a much-respected advisor to the president, and she and her family live in safety and security, until they don’t. In the blink of an eye, a military coup, turns their lives upside down and Sitara is forced to face an unknown future, where she must take on the identity of her dead sister and figure out who she can trust in order to survive.
Sitara, our protagonist, is intriguing from the very beginning as she is plunged into chaos, as a child, not knowing what has truly happened. Nadia Hashimi’s narrative, is incredibly descriptive and compelling, pulling the reader into the story at each stage of Sitara’s life, making palpable the confusion and terror of a child, and relatable, the tough, calculated but emotional decision-making of an adult.
Hashimi’s depiction of the political situation in Afghanistan, as well as its relationship with the United States during this time is nuanced and at times painful to ponder, bringing to light some of the “backroom” dealings that might have taken place.
In the end, we have watched a girl become a woman. All of this is done within a story that makes the reader want to keep reading, page after page, to learn what happens next, to gain insight into how a young girl, destined from the beginning of her life to be strong and wise, travels through nearly insurmountable adversity to become the woman she was destined to be.
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