Monday, September 8, 2014

The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

Title: The Secret Sky:  A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan
Author: Atia Abawi
Number of Pages: 288
Date Read: 9/8/14
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Love, Romance

Synopsis (Found on
A novel of love during a time of war by NBC's Afghanistan correspondent.

Set in present-day Afghanistan, this is the story of two teenagers, one Pashtun and one Hazara, who must fight against their culture, their tradition, their families, and the Taliban to stay together. Told in three rotating perspectivesthe two teens and another boy in the village who turns them in to the local Talibanthis novel depicts both the violent realities of living in Afghanistan, as well as the beauty of the land and the cultures there. And it shows that love can bloom in even the darkest of places.

My Review:
 Warning: This review may contain spoilers

So I just finished this emotional ride called a book and let me tell you it made me sad, happy, upset, disgusted and enraged just to name a few. But this is why I loved the book. Along with the characters and the plot, this book made me feel things and kept me glued to the page. When I finished it, I kept thinking about the things that happened in it and some of them still bother me. This book is a favorite because it made an impact on me. It wasn't just like another book to knock off my reading list. That being said , I do have some very strong opinions about the content of the book so beware if you continue reading. 

First off, a little about the book. The story takes place in Afghanistan in the present day, in a small village. There are 3 main characters: Fatima, a Hazara girl; Samiullah (Sami) a Pashtun boy and Sami's cousin Rashid who is also a Pashtun boy. Sami's father is the 
Khan or leader of their tribe and who owns a lot of land. Fatima's family lives on Sami's father's land and works the land for him. Sami, Fatima and Rashid grew up together and have known each other all their lives. When the story begins, Sami has just come back from the Madrassa which is an Islamic religious school that both he and Rashid were sent to. Sami quit the school and Rashid was back home for vacation. Of course since this is a love story, Fatima and Sami fall in love. Of course according to their culture that is not allowed and major problems occur because of their love with Rashid being at the center of causing the trouble. 

I liked both Sami and Fatima. Both were very loyal to their families and each other. Sami is sweet, thoughtful, gentle and kind. Fatima is loving, family oriented and kind too. But Fatima is not like all other muslim girls. She doesn't want her entire future to be married to a husband she doesn't know and taking care of her family. She is learning to read and has big dreams of going to school in Kabul. She admires Afghan women who are on tv and their radio. While everyone else calls them whores, she calls them brave. Both Fatima and Sami are daring since they meet together in secret to spend time together. While they both love their families, they don't believe in their tradition of arranged marriages and they see nothing wrong with wanting to marry each other. Its their families that will be outraged. They just love each other and want to be together. Both are also very strong and committed to each other as we see them face their hardships and violence. 

At first I hated Rashid with a passion. Now I still don't like him but he is redeemable in my eyes. Rashid is the one who starts all the trouble for Sami and Rashid. Rashid is one of those religious fanatics who justifies his thinking and violence with religious scriptures. He excelled at the Islamic school so he thinks he is the authority on Islam. He wants to punish non-believer and infidels, help bring the Taliban government back and be one of the leaders. He catches Sami and Fatima together in the wood just talking. I am astonished that he automatically calls her a whore. He believes, as others do, that both Sami and Fatima are shaming their families. So he basically tattle tales on them to Sami's father and Fatima's father. when he feels their punishments aren't enough he goes to a local Taliban so they can get the punishment HE thinks they deserve. Here's the thing though. Rashid keeps telling himself that he's doing this because his religion say so but he's really doing it because he is jealous of Sami. He always feels second to Sami and that Sami is the golden boy of the family. So when he found Sami doing something "wrong" he jumps at the chance to ruin his cousin so he can be the favorite. Pathetic. Because he let his anger get the better of him, a lot of bad things happen. While he does do some redeemable actions, to me at least, its kind of "too little, too late".

One of the characters who is the leader of the taliban group disgusts me to no end. HE is a violent man who thinks nothing of killing innocent people and invading peoples homes and "shaming" other families. He is hell bent on killing Sami and Fatima for their "shame" but is is causing more "shame" to those families by doing what he is doing. He is a thug and a crazy bas***d and he needed to be put down like the dog that he is. 

One of the things I could not wrap my head around is the culture and traditions of these families in the book. 

The are so focused on honor and not "shaming" the family name. Sami and Fatima couldn't help falling in love. But in their world they can't be together because a Pashtun boy and Hazara girl can't be together. In this world, at Fatima's age, she can't be outside by herself, she can't be with a boy alone and her parents decide for her who she will marry. The girls have no say in anything and the women can be beaten or killed for the smallest reasons. Fatima meets with Sami secretly and when everyone finds out they call her a slut and a whore For TALKING to a boy! For lying to her parents. In other places that's called being a teenager. In Fatima's world thats cause for her death. I mean really, that is so extreme. And I can't wrap my head around that honor is more important than a persons life. When Fatima "shamed" her family, her mother immediately wished for her death. I mean what kind of mother does that? He mother repeatedly calls her a whore and a slut while beating her and torturing her. Her own mother! And the sick part is that her mother enjoys hurting her, its described in her facial expressions. What kind of sick psychopath does that to their child. That mother needed to die too in my opinion. I work with kids and I want to kill anyone who abuses children in anyway shape or form. This b***h is no exception. If my anyone came at me and did the things that Fatima's mother did to her, no matter what I would defend myself and that person would lose. It just gets me so angry thinking about it. Fatima's father didn't hit her or hurt her. He was disappointed and didn't speak to her. And her mother constantly called a whore and a slut. Umm last time I checked those words refer to women who have sex with many different partners. And whores according to the dictionary, are prostitutes. All Fatima did was talk to a boy. I mean really. Everyone in the world should learn the proper definition of those words and stop calling people those words who it doesn't refer to. And thats not the worst part with Fatima's mother. Her mother actually wants to kill her. Like legit. Fatima's father had to order her mother NOT TO KILL HER. What kind of world is this? Fatima has a baby sister and she was told that her actions would follow her sister so that her sister may not make a suitable marriage. Really? Really? These people would be in for a rude awakening if any of their teen are like the wild teens in other parts of the world. And I'm not even going to start on how women are treated in this culture. I'm sorry if this is anyone's culture who is reading this but I don't agree with any of this and I just don't understand how parents can be ok with killing their children over "shame". I just can't. 

Anyway, the author of this book describes the country beautifully. I could easily picture the surroundings in my mind as I read. It was interesting to read about how other people live in places with no electricity or plumbing. Boy am I glad for my toilet. 

The love story was amazing. I loved how Sami and Fatima loved each other so much they were willing to fight and face death for their love. They risk everything and they lose everything to be with each other. That's true love.


No comments:

Post a Comment