Saturday, 15 October 2016

Book Review: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi.

Book: A House Without Windows

Author: Nadia Hashimi

Pages: 415

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2-3 days

Plot Summary: For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed.

Awaiting trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: eighteen-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an “honor killing”; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, a teen runaway who stays because it is safe shelter; twenty-year-old Mezghan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for a court order to force her lover’s hand. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, like them, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment; removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his homeland have brought him back. With the fate this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like the Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The first and foremost thing I took away from this book was a reinforcement of how incredibly lucky I am to live where I live and the rights I enjoy as a woman. India might not be perfect when it comes to Women's Right but OH MY GOD it is so much better than Afghanistan. There were so many moments in this book where I put it down and said a silent prayer of gratitude. Seriously, I really appreciate the laws and system in place that protects my dignity in my country. In Afghanistan, for instance, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she is first arrested and charged with having sex outside of marriage. WTF! How messed up is that! It makes my blood boil. 

2. The prison setting was unique and very interesting to read about. I haven't read that many books set in prisons and this was such a different prison set-up. I was a little anxious as Zeba entered the prison, expecting her to find cruel and abusive inmates and staff. Instead I was surprised to find a community of kind and unfairly treated women. A group of wronged but kind women. A strong community of women is always heartening to read about! 

3. Zeba...I really liked her and found myself rooting for her and her children. She is a such a strong and at the same time vulnerable character. She is going through so much and has never had an easy life and it came across so well in the breakdown and shutting down she suffers. All of Zeba's anguish was shown so well in the book. 

4. Before I forget...the writing was really good. 

5. I loved all of the women we meet in prison. All of them, especially Zeba's room-mates were such memorable characters and such a delight to spend time with. 

6. There is quite a bit of magic in this book. Like witchcraft...but an Afghani version of it. I really enjoyed reading about it and seeing this magic help some of the inmates at the jail and how Zeba is loved and revered by her fellow inmates for being a blessed soul. 

7. Zeba's mother was also such an interesting character with a very rich and slightly mysterious back story of her own. I think she could have a whole book to herself! 

8. I also liked Yusuf. An Afghan born but American raised young man who is back in his country to help it's people and do the right thing. Him trying to help Zeba in ernest was heartening to read about and to see him grapple with the justice system in Afghanistan was interesting. 

9. There was a slight mystery when it came to what really happened to Kamal and who really killed him. I enjoy a mystery and the reveal was good too. I guessed a part of it but the whole reveal was really good! 

10. I love reading about Afghanistan, I haven't read a single book set in this country that I didn't like. I like reading about the common man and his troubles and especially how women have had to deal with. It makes me sad and angry but I think it's important to read about real lives and real tragedies and bear testament to the injustices in the world. 

11. This was such a immersive read. I just didn't want to put it down and thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book. 

12. Even Yusuf's backstory and his family's journey to America and their story was so interesting to read about. To see the immigrant experience and having had to leave everything behind. And see his longing to come back home and serve his people and help rebuild his bruised homeland. 

Rating: 4/5 

I really loved this book and I highly recommend it. 
I can't wait to read more from this author. 

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