A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.
When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. 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 relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.
In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao’s debut novel is a literary tour de force.
I have to say that this novel should definitely come with trigger warnings. I am not one to shy away from certain subjects but there was an incident in the novel that was even hard for me to get thru. When I first started this novel I did not think that I was going to finish it because it didn’t capture me right at first but once I was into the story, I was hooked! This story is set in India for most of the novel and I am so glad that I have read I Am Malala because it allowed me to be familiar with the setting. This is one of those debut novels that people are going to be hungover from after reading it because it is so intense and touches on subjects that society likes to put blinders up to, especially if it is happening in another part of the world that you are not familiar with. Drugs, abuse, sex trafficking, and even self sacrifice. The extremes that Savitha is willing to endure to get away from where she is are just horrifying and the circumstances that Poornima have to deal with are horrifying as well. The abuse that both of these girls have to endure throughout their existence is on a level that I could not even begin to imagine. This novel is not for the faint of heart but if you want a story that is going to draw you in and show you that there is another part of life that is not all roses and laughter, then this is the novel for you. I am excited to see what others are going to think after reading it once this book becomes available.
Book will be published March 6, 2018 and available as ebook and hardcover.
I received a galley of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.