Girls Burn Brighter

Shobha Rao. Flatiron, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-07425-6
Rao’s stirring debut novel (following the collection An Unrestored Woman) explores how far a woman will go to recapture the one sustaining relationship in her life. It’s 2001, and Poornima and Savitha are both considered poor marriage prospects in their Indian village of Indravalli, Poornima because she’s unattractive and defiant, Savitha because her family is desperately poor. When the two girls become acquainted, they recognize the value in one another that the rest of their world has failed to acknowledge. When, on the eve of Poornima’s eventual wedding to a man with imperfections of his own, tragedy befalls Savitha, the two girls are separated, seemingly forever. Affecting and rich in dramatic irony, the young women’s stories—told in alternating sections—follow their travels from village to city and eventually from India to Seattle. Although lengthy metaphysical musings threaten at times to derail the momentum, the narrative’s thematic consistency and emotional urgency will pull readers along. Vivid depictions of contemporary Indian culture and harrowing accounts of human trafficking—along with the novel’s ambiguous ending—will leave readers, and book clubs, with much to ponder and discuss. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/08/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-250-30950-1
Library Binding - 537 pages - 978-1-4328-5097-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-30012-6
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