The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

Atia Abawi. Philomel, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-16078-3
Three characters take turns narrating foreign correspondent Abawi’s debut, about a cross-cultural love affair that tears at a small Afghan community. Pashtun landowners and Hazara farmers maintain a respectful peace—their children play together, but a “Hazara girl could never marry a Pashtun boy.” Fatima dreams of a future in Kabul, where girls “can become doctors, lawyers, midwives and even artists!” After Samiullah returns home, disillusioned with teachers’ cruel indoctrination at his madrassa, his childhood friendship with Fatima blossoms into love. Meanwhile, Samiullah’s cousin Rashid seeks to gain favor with the local Taliban by reporting their attachment, resulting in horrific consequences for both families. Decades of tribal strife influence the present, causing some to cling to tradition, while others encourage change, like a grandmother teaching her granddaughter to read. Disturbing depictions of physical, emotional, and sexual violence against women, men, and children, both within families and between different groups, contrast with extravagant acts of courage, kindness, and sacrifice. Throughout, Fatima, Samiullah, and Rashid wrestle with what constitutes faithful living, as represented by two mullahs offering wildly different interpretations. A suspenseful, enlightening, and hopeful love story. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/2014
Release date: 09/02/2014
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-14-242406-3
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-399-16992-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4906-2740-3
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