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Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communi Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.  Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured.  New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost.  Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.


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Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communi Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.  Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured.  New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost.  Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.

30 review for Sparks Like Stars

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    ‘my soul is from elsewhere and i intend to end up there.’ oh my goodness. the writing in this is ✨ s t u n n i n g ✨ i dont annotate my books but, if i did, this would be covered in highlights. so many wonderful sentences. this story is on the slower side of things, but the narration and complex characters make up for it. for me, personally, i find thats exactly what i need in historical fiction. i prefer stories that focus on the people and emotion, rather than a factual basis. this may be first ‘my soul is from elsewhere and i intend to end up there.’ oh my goodness. the writing in this is ✨ s t u n n i n g ✨ i dont annotate my books but, if i did, this would be covered in highlights. so many wonderful sentences. this story is on the slower side of things, but the narration and complex characters make up for it. for me, personally, i find thats exactly what i need in historical fiction. i prefer stories that focus on the people and emotion, rather than a factual basis. this may be first book by NH, but it definitely wont be my last. i honestly cant get enough of her writing. ↠ 4.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.5 Afghani Stars The first half of this book is set in Afghanistan, a country I’ve been fascinated with since I started reading M.M. Kaye books in high school. I’m holding out hope that someday things will be peaceful enough for me to visit. One of the interesting things I was reminded of with this book is that you call the people Afghans and food is Afghani. Sitara is a young girl of ten in 1978’s Kabul. Her father is a high ranking official, working for President Daoud and Sitara’s family freq 4.5 Afghani Stars The first half of this book is set in Afghanistan, a country I’ve been fascinated with since I started reading M.M. Kaye books in high school. I’m holding out hope that someday things will be peaceful enough for me to visit. One of the interesting things I was reminded of with this book is that you call the people Afghans and food is Afghani. Sitara is a young girl of ten in 1978’s Kabul. Her father is a high ranking official, working for President Daoud and Sitara’s family frequently stayed at the Palace, or Arg. Sitara often plays hide and seek in the palace and gardens with the President’s children and she loves the library! One night the fairytale ends when there is a coup, and the palace soldiers and military turn on the President and his family. Miraculously Sitara survives and is smuggled out and eventually lands with two women who get her out of the dangerous country. The second half of the book starts with the adult life of Sitara, now using a different name, and her career as an oncologist in New York. She’s never fully grieved her family or gotten over the violence of that night in Kabul. She keeps her barriers up and very few people know the story of her early life. She grapples with anger at the guard who smuggled her out and she’s never understood his motivation. Sitara decides that she needs to visit Kabul again to try and find out the truth and bring some closure to this early trauma in her life. This is a slower read but I really like this author’s style and storytelling. She’s got a few I haven’t read, so hopefully I can get to those soon. Thank you to Book Club Girls/William Morrow for a copy of this one to read and review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Book clubs, this book is for you. In the many discussions we've had in living rooms, libraries, zoom rooms, we've talked about Afghanistan before and after the Soviet invasion of '79. We've circled the question that ultimately inspired this book - what tipped Afghanistan into decades of conflict? As it turns out, it was a dark and intriguing moment in April of 1978. This is the story of that moment, of that time in Afghanistan's history and the deep reach of the Cold War. I've posted some of my Book clubs, this book is for you. In the many discussions we've had in living rooms, libraries, zoom rooms, we've talked about Afghanistan before and after the Soviet invasion of '79. We've circled the question that ultimately inspired this book - what tipped Afghanistan into decades of conflict? As it turns out, it was a dark and intriguing moment in April of 1978. This is the story of that moment, of that time in Afghanistan's history and the deep reach of the Cold War. I've posted some of my research links for this book (and my others) on Pinterest. I've admired old maps of the stars, dug through redacted CIA documents, and spent an unjustifiable number of hours staring at pictures of free-spirited hippies than I should have. I can't wait for Sitara to tell you her story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    ‘Her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky. I am that girl, and this is my story’. Though I enjoyed this overall, I did find it to be slower going than previous novels. I don’t feel like this story had the depth that her others have had. One of the reasons for this is that unlike in ‘Her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky. I am that girl, and this is my story’. Though I enjoyed this overall, I did find it to be slower going than previous novels. I don’t feel like this story had the depth that her others have had. One of the reasons for this is that unlike in Hashimi’s previous novels Afghanistan is not her own character... she took a backseat. There were only glimpses of her. Hashimi is incredibly talented and the passion she has for Afghanistan and her people is what I’ve grown to love most about her writing. I just don’t think it was showcased as well in this. Still I will never pass up a chance to read her novels. 3.5 stars. Favorite quotes: ‘Let people serve you information, but never let them serve you your opinion.’ ‘My father had taught me to recognize and see through propaganda, to be suspicious of every statement that did not allow room for debate or question.’ ‘If faith was a life raft, mine was riddled with holes.’ ‘You must take a step, before you ask God to bless your journey.’ ‘Grief is nothing but the far brink of love. Love is the sun, grief is the shadow it casts. Love is an opera, grief is its echo. You cannot have one without the other.’ *I feel like the last several pre-pub novels I’ve read have been somewhat disappointing. I’m realizing that authors, just like the rest of us, are living through difficult times. Their deadlines probably have not been put on hold because of it. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to separate their worlds. So, I’ve decided to give grace to these artists and not judge too harshly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Sitara Zamani was 10 years old in 1978 when her parents and younger brother were killed during a coup in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers, Shair, managed to hide her and take her to an American diplomat. The diplomat helped her to escape to America and raised Sitara (now using the assumed name Aryana) as her mother. In 2008, Aryana is a surgeon in NYC. When Shair became Aryana’s patient it reawakened decades of resentment against him for not saving the rest of her family. She became determined t Sitara Zamani was 10 years old in 1978 when her parents and younger brother were killed during a coup in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers, Shair, managed to hide her and take her to an American diplomat. The diplomat helped her to escape to America and raised Sitara (now using the assumed name Aryana) as her mother. In 2008, Aryana is a surgeon in NYC. When Shair became Aryana’s patient it reawakened decades of resentment against him for not saving the rest of her family. She became determined to return to Afghanistan to find their bodies. I think that this is the first book I have read about Afghanistan. In the US, pretty much everything we read in the news about Afghanistan is bad, so the most interesting parts of the book to me were those set in pre-coup Afghanistan and 2008 Afghanistan. It was definitely a different picture of the country. I thought that the part of the book set in the United States went on too long. Before her adoption, Aryana spent a very brief period in an abusive foster home. That interlude was completely irrelevant to the rest of the story and should have been omitted. I also wanted to skip over all of the details of Aryana’s medical practice. The author is a doctor so I’m sure that interested her, but I definitely did not want to hear about it. I listened to the audiobook and the narration was very good. However, if I had been reading the book in another format I probably would have skimmed over much of what happened in America. 3.5 stars I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    It’s 1978 in Afghanistan. Young Sitara’s beloved father is an advisor to President Daoud Khan and her family were frequent visitors to the palace. The President’s grandchildren were close friends with Sitara and her younger brother. The palace was their playground. One day in April, the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan stages an attack against the President. Sitara manages to survive the coup after watching in horror as her family is murdered. Shair, one of the guards who t It’s 1978 in Afghanistan. Young Sitara’s beloved father is an advisor to President Daoud Khan and her family were frequent visitors to the palace. The President’s grandchildren were close friends with Sitara and her younger brother. The palace was their playground. One day in April, the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan stages an attack against the President. Sitara manages to survive the coup after watching in horror as her family is murdered. Shair, one of the guards who turned on the President, helps Sitara escape the palace and places her with two American women. The story shifts to 2008, New York City. Sitara, who now uses the name Aryana, is an oncologist. While now a caring healer, she has never been able to fully heal from the trauma she experienced in her home country. A chance meeting with Shair, who is seeking medical help, brings up all her feelings about her loss, which she has hidden from most who know her. Was Shair the one who murdered her family? Why did he help save her? And where was her family buried? Her anger is reignited and she seeks answers in Kabul. Sparks Like Stars by author Nadia Hashimi tells the complex story of Afghanistan’s history over the past few decades through the eyes of Sitara/Aryana. Her loss is tragic yet she is a strong woman who uses her memories of her family to guide her. The setting is not a part of the world I normally read about in novels making this book extremely interesting and all the more impactful. It was a slower than normal read because there were so many passages that I re-read for the beauty of the writing. I hope you will take the time and read this book. Many thanks to William Morrow / HarperCollins and the Book Club Girl Early Reads program for the opportunity to read this emotional book in advance of its publication. Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    Sparks Like Stars is the second book I have read by this author. If you are a fan of the historical fiction genre, I highly recommend checking her books out. The plot of this one keeps your eyes glued to the pages and despite the fact it runs over 450 pages in length, it doesn't feel like a long read. The only issue I had with the story is I missed out on having an emotional connection to the main character. In 1978, ten year old Sitara is living in Kabul with her family. Her father is the right Sparks Like Stars is the second book I have read by this author. If you are a fan of the historical fiction genre, I highly recommend checking her books out. The plot of this one keeps your eyes glued to the pages and despite the fact it runs over 450 pages in length, it doesn't feel like a long read. The only issue I had with the story is I missed out on having an emotional connection to the main character. In 1978, ten year old Sitara is living in Kabul with her family. Her father is the right hand man for Afghanistan president, Sardar Daoud. Sitara's life changes in the blink of an eye when the president and her family are assassinated after communists stage a coup. She is smuggled out of the palace by a guard and ends up living with a female American diplomat. In order to leave Afghanistan, Sitara takes on a new identity, Aryana Shepherd. She eventually winds up in the United States. Fast forward 30 years and Aryana is living in New York and is a doctor. She believes now is the time to seek out answers about her past. This historical fiction read is a combination of fact and fiction. The story is so rich in cultural info about Afghanistan which make it a valuable read. So even though some characters and situations are products of the author's creativity, the story is worth reading especially if are interested in learning about what what going on in that country in the late 1970s as well as in 2008. There is so much tragedy in Sitara's life and that's why I find it so odd I didn't feel invested in her on an emotional level. I was fascinated with her life and admired her strength and courage but I also felt detached from her. Maybe the best way to explain it is at some point in the story I should have shed a tear when she was hurting but that wasn't the case. I do think I'm in the minority when it comes to that opinion judging by some of the other reviews. I will continue to seek out more books by Nadia Hashimi as I love what she is bringing to the historical fiction genre. I received a free copy of this book as part of #WMTastemakers. All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi is an impactful and complex story. The first part of the story takes place in Afghanistan and this is the first book I’ve ever read set in Afghanistan. I was fascinated by their culture with both the good and bad described. Daily life is described as well as unrest. The second part of the story takes place after Sitara moves to the US and changes her name to Aryana. There is so much going on in Sparks Like Stars but Hashimi tells it in a way that is easy to kee Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi is an impactful and complex story. The first part of the story takes place in Afghanistan and this is the first book I’ve ever read set in Afghanistan. I was fascinated by their culture with both the good and bad described. Daily life is described as well as unrest. The second part of the story takes place after Sitara moves to the US and changes her name to Aryana. There is so much going on in Sparks Like Stars but Hashimi tells it in a way that is easy to keep up with. I had so many feels while reading Sparks Like Stars and felt all of Sitara/Aryana’s emotions. Family is one of the themes in Sparks Like Stars. Sitara has the family she was born with and Aryana has the family she chose. It is interesting to see how she reacts to both and how her family affects her decisions. The main character is a strong, independent woman that never gives up. She fights for answers and tries to help others. Sparks Like Stars is a must read for anyone that likes learning about other cutlures and reading about strong women. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Mozhan Marno and thought she did an excellent job. Marno was the perfect voice for Sitara. She used her voice to emphasize emotions. Thank you Harper Audio, William Morrow and NetGalley for Sparks Like Stars. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    September 23, 2020: I have a feeling I'm going to love this book, especially since I get all excited for South Asian (yes, Afghanistan can be considered a part of SA, take your geography class) stories! September 23, 2020: I have a feeling I'm going to love this book, especially since I get all excited for South Asian (yes, Afghanistan can be considered a part of SA, take your geography class) stories!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    4.5 strong stars! Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi read like a memoir but was actually a fine example of historical fiction. This book was beautifully written and captured the essence of Afghanistan before the Communist coup and after. Nadia Hashimi made it easy to picture the streets, people, shops, soldiers, gardens, and the life that occurred within the walls of the castle prior to the coup that was staged by the communists. Sparks Like Stars was very well researched. It was told in a dual 4.5 strong stars! Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi read like a memoir but was actually a fine example of historical fiction. This book was beautifully written and captured the essence of Afghanistan before the Communist coup and after. Nadia Hashimi made it easy to picture the streets, people, shops, soldiers, gardens, and the life that occurred within the walls of the castle prior to the coup that was staged by the communists. Sparks Like Stars was very well researched. It was told in a dual time line. The story gripped my attention from the very beginning and held it until the very end. I listened to Sparks Like Stars on audiobook. It was brilliantly narrated by Mozhan Marno. Her voice was rich and captivating. I found it hard to turn the audiobook off. I was so engrossed in Sitara’s heart wrenching story. It ran for a little over thirteen hours. I listened to Sparks like Stars over the course of two days. The first part of Sparks Like Stars took place in Kabul in 1978. Sitara Zalmani was a ten year old smart and curious young girl who was living a privileged life. Her father was one of the prominent advisors to Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president. Sitara lived with her mother, father and little brother. Her family spent a lot of time at the castle because of Sitara’s father’s position. Life for Sitara and her family was good. All that changed in the course of one night. The communists staged a coup and multiple assignations occurred. The President was killed as were the members of Sitara’s family. Sitara was the only survivor from the brutal massacre. Shair, one of the castle guards, smuggled Sitara out of the castle. He was able to find refuge for Sitara with an American diplomat. Sitara witnessed the assignation of her family. She believed that Shair helped to kill her family. Her family was always kind to him. How could he have done this? Sitara was angry, sad, confused and scared. The American diplomat, Antonia and her mother, took her in and patiently waited for Sitara to learn to trust them, Antonia and her mother were able to get Sitara out of Kabul to America. Sitara took the name of her older sister who had been born in America but died before Sitara was born. Sitara became Aryana Shepherd. After a nightmarish start in the foster care system, Sitara now Aryana was finally adopted by Antonia. Aryana learned to love and care deeply for Antonia. She even came to call Antonia mom. Sparks Like Stars jumped ahead forty years to the year 2018. Aryana, now an accomplished surgeon, lived in Queens and worked in a hospital in New York City. Her patients had cancer. One day a much older version of the guard that saved her all those years ago, showed up in her clinic. Aryana still believed that Shair could have played a part in killing her family. When Aryana recognized Shair all the old bottled up feelings from long ago surfaced. Aryana was determined to get Shair to admit to his part in killing her family. She needed Shair to tell her where her family was buried so she could finally give them the burial they deserved. Aryana’s desire for answers was awakened. She decided to finally go back to Kabul to get her answers. Aryana was accompanied by Antonia and a photo journalist she had met at a book signing. Will she get closure? Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi was heart breaking, full of tragedy, and hopeful at the same time. The themes of survival, strength, healing, hardships, loss, anger, resentment, and resilience were evident throughout this book. Sitara became a brave, intelligent and resilient young woman who kept her memories of that fateful night hidden from most but always in her most private thoughts. Sparks Like Stars was a magnificent book. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Harper Audio for allowing me to listen to the advanced copy of this audiobook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sparks Like Stars was absolutely a breathtaking book to dive into. In it, you will meet Sitara. Who eventually goes by the name Aryana. After a rather sudden and unexpected tragedy, she is leaving Afghanistan and heading to America. From there, she grows up and eventually becomes a successful surgeon. Yet, there's still something that she really wants to know and understand - the reason why her family died. Aryana was such a I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sparks Like Stars was absolutely a breathtaking book to dive into. In it, you will meet Sitara. Who eventually goes by the name Aryana. After a rather sudden and unexpected tragedy, she is leaving Afghanistan and heading to America. From there, she grows up and eventually becomes a successful surgeon. Yet, there's still something that she really wants to know and understand - the reason why her family died. Aryana was such an interesting character to follow. I was honestly impressed with how awesome and fierce she was throughout the book. It was just so easy to be in awe of her and to see her grow during this journey of discovering the truth. She goes through so much in this book that I can't even image or dream of. Which is probably why I devoured it so quickly. Long story short, I was completely hooked from start to finish. The world building and the characters were just amazing that it was way too easy for me to fall in love with the actual story. If you ever decide to dive into this book, I would highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator was so freaking good. Definitely recommendable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristin- Shabby Chic Reader

    I loved everything about this book! It was full of emotion, adventure, and finding closure for loss of family. This story was well written. It reads like a memoir but is a fictional story. You ache with the characters during their journey through life and the hardships they endure. The author included a wonderful description of life in Kabul before and after the takeover and the history of the country. She also delves into dealing with PTSD and survivor guilt. I would recommend this book to love I loved everything about this book! It was full of emotion, adventure, and finding closure for loss of family. This story was well written. It reads like a memoir but is a fictional story. You ache with the characters during their journey through life and the hardships they endure. The author included a wonderful description of life in Kabul before and after the takeover and the history of the country. She also delves into dealing with PTSD and survivor guilt. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and women's fiction! Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    HAPPY PUB DAY! 3/2/21 Make sure you grab a copy of this book AND an ample supply of tissues! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book, but I can tell you one thing I learned coming out of it: You must have tissues handy at all times while you are reading it. Sparks Like Stars chronicles the life of Sitara Zimani, a ten year old girl who witnesses the murder of her family in Afghanistan during the assassination of the president and his family. Her father had been the president’s HAPPY PUB DAY! 3/2/21 Make sure you grab a copy of this book AND an ample supply of tissues! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book, but I can tell you one thing I learned coming out of it: You must have tissues handy at all times while you are reading it. Sparks Like Stars chronicles the life of Sitara Zimani, a ten year old girl who witnesses the murder of her family in Afghanistan during the assassination of the president and his family. Her father had been the president’s right hand man. The story takes the reader through her baffling and terrifying rescue, journey to the United States, and growth into adulthood, living now as Aryana Shepherd, a surgeon in NYC who unexpectedly encounters the soldier who saved her so many years before. This fascinating story is filled with historical detail, breathtaking prose, and morsels of wisdom. I enjoyed it far more than I’d expected to. I try not to request ARCs impulsively, but it seems I had an impetuous moment when I asked for this particular book. The synopsis certainly sounded intriguing, but I wasn’t sure this was the type of story that would hold my interest. I did not need to worry. I was deeply invested in Sitara’s saga all the way through. As I’ve already warned, this is a tearjerker. I was crying by the time I hit the 11% mark in the audiobook and teared up many times after that. Sparks Like Stars takes the reader into the heart of the main character’s grief and trauma, demonstrating the effect of them as she grows into a woman who still desperately needs closure. How many of us can relate to that? Although it’s a story beyond anything I can fathom experiencing, I felt great empathy for Sitara/Aryana and hoped for a good outcome at the end of her tragic tale. I am so glad that I did request this on a whim! Had I put too much thought into what best suited my tastes, I would have missed out on a magnificent story. Sparks Like Stars is a wonderful “own voices” narrative that taught me a lot and deeply touched my heart. I’d like to read more by Nadia Hashimi in the future. I am immensely grateful to William Morrow and NetGalley for my audio review copy. All opinions are my own. Sparks Like Stars is available preorder and will be published on March 2, 2021.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I loved this book. I was nearing the end when I realized it was playing across my mind like a very well crafted movie. I loved the story, I loved the relationships, I loved the history, and I loved landscape created with words. I want to visit Afghanistan and see the beauty that is described by Sitara. I want to study the history and understand what part Cold War played in the recent history. The short snippets of explanations were barely enough to digest and left me hungry for more. I did not k I loved this book. I was nearing the end when I realized it was playing across my mind like a very well crafted movie. I loved the story, I loved the relationships, I loved the history, and I loved landscape created with words. I want to visit Afghanistan and see the beauty that is described by Sitara. I want to study the history and understand what part Cold War played in the recent history. The short snippets of explanations were barely enough to digest and left me hungry for more. I did not know that the end of WWII is what defines First World, Second World, and Third World countries. Nor did I understand the part the Cold War played in the rise of the Taliban. There were many passages I highlighted and loved, but the explanation of grief is the one that lit up my soul in truth: “You miss them, she said. That’s grief, and grief is nothing but the far brink of love. Love is the sun, grief is the shadow it casts. Love is an opera, grief is its echo. You cannot have one without the other. But if you follow that grief, you’ll find your way back to love. You haven’t let yourself do that yet, and you need to—in your own way. So cry, scream, run, sleep, pray, or write love notes in the sand. But grieve, so you can get back to love, because love is a better place to be.” “I have not allowed them to be part of me, failing to understand that their light can be my Dawn - that a good day begins with a good mourning.” Such a worthwhile read! Thanks to Edelweiss for this digital advanced copy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaitie Leary

    This book truly took me on an emotional journey. It is no exaggeration to say that it broke my heart and stitched it back together. I cannot wait for more people to have the privilege of discovering this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    This book was beautiful. It may just be my favorite book of the month. This will definitely stay with me for a while. Thank you so much NetGalley & Harper Audio for my advanced copy. What I Loved- ✨ How Epic This Story Felt- it spans decades and continents. We follow Sitira from the time she is a young girl in Afghanistan and follow her across the ocean and into adulthood in America where she is a doctor. I would love to see this book translated to film. ✨ Sitira - I loved Sitira as a character. S This book was beautiful. It may just be my favorite book of the month. This will definitely stay with me for a while. Thank you so much NetGalley & Harper Audio for my advanced copy. What I Loved- ✨ How Epic This Story Felt- it spans decades and continents. We follow Sitira from the time she is a young girl in Afghanistan and follow her across the ocean and into adulthood in America where she is a doctor. I would love to see this book translated to film. ✨ Sitira - I loved Sitira as a character. She was so real to me! As I was reading / listening to this book I had to constantly remind myself that she was a fictional character. Her and I have nothing in common but I found her relatable. I identified with her need/want for answers and her love for her family. Present and past. ✨ The Emotions- I felt so many things while reading this book. It was heartbreaking at times and very hopeful at others. I so wanted Sitira to get the ending I thought she deserved. ✨ The Audio- The narrator was amazing! Mozhan Marno also narrated The Stationary Shop which I absolutely loved! ( highly recommend that book as well ) Sparks Like Stars is making me want to go and do my own research of Afghanistan and it’s history. Overall- highly recommend. Please read this book. I can’t wait to read more by this author

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    This was a heavy read. Just heartbreak over and over. The beginning was bit hard for me to connect with the protagonist because so much was happening so fast. I didn’t feel her emotions as much as I was yearning to. Reading a child going through so much trauma was just really difficult. One thing after another without any breaks. It left me hopeless and numb. I had to take breaks in reading. Suddenly, the story jumps to 30 or so years later. The protagonist is an accomplished adult, but she is s This was a heavy read. Just heartbreak over and over. The beginning was bit hard for me to connect with the protagonist because so much was happening so fast. I didn’t feel her emotions as much as I was yearning to. Reading a child going through so much trauma was just really difficult. One thing after another without any breaks. It left me hopeless and numb. I had to take breaks in reading. Suddenly, the story jumps to 30 or so years later. The protagonist is an accomplished adult, but she is still experiencing trauma and ptsd time and time again. There is so much loss, resilience, and strength in this woman, and thankfully some healing. It is very emotional and and tragic. It almost feels like a memoir. Lots of politics and action in the first half. Overall, I enjoyed the book and the journey it took me on. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest opinion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christi Flaker

    This story begins in Afghanistan in the year 1978. We meet our main character Sitara (10 years old) whose father is a close advisor to the President. Her best friends are the president's grandchildren. Due to these connections Sitara and her family happen to be in the palace on the day of a murderous coup. A guard, who turned on the president, for some reason, decides to take pity on Sitara and rescues her from the palace after she witnesses the murder of her family. After risking his and his fa This story begins in Afghanistan in the year 1978. We meet our main character Sitara (10 years old) whose father is a close advisor to the President. Her best friends are the president's grandchildren. Due to these connections Sitara and her family happen to be in the palace on the day of a murderous coup. A guard, who turned on the president, for some reason, decides to take pity on Sitara and rescues her from the palace after she witnesses the murder of her family. After risking his and his families safety, he leaves her with two American women who help protect her from danger and help her escape to America. We pick up with her in 2008. She lives in New York City and is an accomplished oncology surgeon. When an encounter in her life brings her past to the forefront she is determined to find answers and to do so must return back to Kabul. At first when the time jump happened I felt robbed of an entire chunk of her story. As I continued reading there were enough memories shared that I was able to fill in much of her formative years and see the events that helped (along with the tragedy and her early years) shape her into the women she became. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking. It gives hope through tragedy and survival. It honors the past and brings to light the struggle of one girl whose life was irrevocably altered at a young age and the and the affects of witnessing has on her life. This book is one that has many great talking points as it touches on the politics of the country over the years and the impact of outside interference. It shows the evolution of Afghanistan from a country that was popular to tourists to how it is seen today. It has definitely piqued my interest and I would like to check out some of the books the author mentions in her epilogue to expand my knowledge. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for an ALC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsay

    I'll start by saying that I LOVED this book! I received my copy of Sparks Like Stars through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am so grateful that if I were to win any book, this was that one. I was previously unfamiliar with the Saur Revolution, so I was excited to read this story and found myself inspired to learn more about the history of Afghanistan, including Afghanistan's relationships with other countries (particularly with the United States and Russia), starting with the Cold War and extending I'll start by saying that I LOVED this book! I received my copy of Sparks Like Stars through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am so grateful that if I were to win any book, this was that one. I was previously unfamiliar with the Saur Revolution, so I was excited to read this story and found myself inspired to learn more about the history of Afghanistan, including Afghanistan's relationships with other countries (particularly with the United States and Russia), starting with the Cold War and extending into this century. Sitara's life is turned upside down when her family is assassinated during the Communist coup in April 1978. The beginning of the book centers around her life as a carefree, fun-loving, spunky child living a very privileged life. Her life is tragically turned upside-down, and we transition with her into survival mode, as being a survivor of the coup puts her life and safety in tremendous danger. The latter part of the book takes place thirty years later, as Sitara seeks to find and resolve the truth of what happened to her family on that terrible night. This is the first of Nadia Hashimi's books that I have read, and I was hooked from the beginning. There were scary moments when I was on the edge of my seat, terrified for what might happen next; heartbreaking moments when I was frustrated or even crying; poignant moments when my heart swelled with compassion for Sitara and those who loved her. I love Sitara as a character, and I loved being on her journey with her. Nadia's writing is lovely and elegant, eloquent and graceful. The story moved along with a perfect balance of action and description, just enough description to build incredible imagery in your mind, and plenty of action to propel you through Sitara's harrowing and enlightening journey. Hashimi's female characters are intelligent and daring, brave and compassionate - a wonderful cast of strong women. I look forward to reading other books by Nadia Hashimi, and I'm so glad that I read this one. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi. Thanks to @williammorrow for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sitara lives a charmed life in the palace in Kabul. All this changes when the communists stage a coup and her family and friends are all left for dead. After escaping to America and making a life for herself as a doctor, she is confronted with a soldier from her past. This was a beautifully told story that will appeal to historical fiction and Kite Runner lovers. The book for me was broken into two parts; the m Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi. Thanks to @williammorrow for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sitara lives a charmed life in the palace in Kabul. All this changes when the communists stage a coup and her family and friends are all left for dead. After escaping to America and making a life for herself as a doctor, she is confronted with a soldier from her past. This was a beautifully told story that will appeal to historical fiction and Kite Runner lovers. The book for me was broken into two parts; the main character’s youth in Afghanistan and her adult years in America. Unfortunately I found the first half much more interesting. The first half had a lot about the culture, taking place in the palace and of course the excitement of the coop. The second half was a bit slower, with the main character dealing with the repercussions of her trauma as an adult. While I didn’t love this book, I did still enjoy it and think it was beautifully written. I think that true historical fiction fans will especially love this one. “But maybe, I thought, if I could manage to feign bravery in this moment, then I could feign bravery at another moment. And maybe if I feigned bravery enough, I could grow into it.” Sparks Like Stars comes out 3/2.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    ARC from NetGalley and William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I don’t even know where to begin... well maybe with the fact this this subject was completely unknown to me and I feel so much more rounded now that I had exposure to this story. The story of an Afghan girl who escaped a coup and was brave enough to start a new life with a new name with complete strangers... it just really pulled at your heartstrings. Aryana was so brave. Her talisman, that she kept, and how she parted with i ARC from NetGalley and William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I don’t even know where to begin... well maybe with the fact this this subject was completely unknown to me and I feel so much more rounded now that I had exposure to this story. The story of an Afghan girl who escaped a coup and was brave enough to start a new life with a new name with complete strangers... it just really pulled at your heartstrings. Aryana was so brave. Her talisman, that she kept, and how she parted with it. Everything about this story was just fascinating. I felt the Hashimi was very smart with making her able to understand Dari (I think) and English. It made this story even more believable. And I loved the connections to the Romanovs. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this story before pub day!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I really liked this one. There was so much to gush about it. The story starts out in 1978 in Kabul as a coup is underway. The MC, a young girl, somehow escapes the massacre and so the story begins. The emotion in this felt so raw and real. I could see and feel her and her predicament. The author painted rich detail into the characters, the place, the relationships....as well as the sense of loss that occurred in more than one way. She had to get to a point where she could sift through it all and I really liked this one. There was so much to gush about it. The story starts out in 1978 in Kabul as a coup is underway. The MC, a young girl, somehow escapes the massacre and so the story begins. The emotion in this felt so raw and real. I could see and feel her and her predicament. The author painted rich detail into the characters, the place, the relationships....as well as the sense of loss that occurred in more than one way. She had to get to a point where she could sift through it all and deal. She makes her way to America where she grows up but eventually finds her way back to Kabul to confront the ghosts of her past. It was a poignant journey and this is a story that will stay with me for a while. So 5 stars for this one. This is the 4th book by this author that I've read and it is by far my favorite. She usually is in the 3 star range but I loved this one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mercedes Stacey

    I really enjoyed this one! Hashimi has a way of making you connect to her characters and feel what they’re feeling. There weren’t so many characters that it was confusing too, which is so nice for audiobooks. I loved the historical aspects and that I learned a lot while reading. I loved learning more about Afghanistan and Kabul! I definitely want to read more of her books so I can travel there with her characters! Thanks NetGalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    It is 1978, Kabul, when a young Sitara witnesses the murder of her family during the military coup.Sitara manages to escape, but is haunted by the events. Aided by an American embassy worker and her mother, Sitara leaves for America, but using the name of her sister, Ayana, who was born in the US when her parents lived there for two years. The story is one emphasizing the various forces of upheaval in Afghanistan, while bringing the story of this one woman into our hearts. I loved the book, and It is 1978, Kabul, when a young Sitara witnesses the murder of her family during the military coup.Sitara manages to escape, but is haunted by the events. Aided by an American embassy worker and her mother, Sitara leaves for America, but using the name of her sister, Ayana, who was born in the US when her parents lived there for two years. The story is one emphasizing the various forces of upheaval in Afghanistan, while bringing the story of this one woman into our hearts. I loved the book, and the bravery Sitara shows possible under the worst circumstances is hopeful. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, which I highly recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sage

    THIS BOOK DESTROYED ME. Thank you to William Morrow for approving my DRC request — it’s rare that I read a DRC and feel the need to own a physical copy, but I absolutely need a hard copy of this book when it comes out in March. This is truly incredible. It broke my heart into a million pieces, and was so epic in scope. 10-year-old Sitara’s family are killed in the 1978 communist coup in Afghanistan, and she is smuggled to safety by a soldier (literally dropped on the doorstep of an American dipl THIS BOOK DESTROYED ME. Thank you to William Morrow for approving my DRC request — it’s rare that I read a DRC and feel the need to own a physical copy, but I absolutely need a hard copy of this book when it comes out in March. This is truly incredible. It broke my heart into a million pieces, and was so epic in scope. 10-year-old Sitara’s family are killed in the 1978 communist coup in Afghanistan, and she is smuggled to safety by a soldier (literally dropped on the doorstep of an American diplomat. Through A FREAKIN JOURNEY she ends up in America, adopted by the diplomat, Antonia (BIG heart eyes @ Nia’s mom, Tilly!!!). She takes the name Aryana, and tries to bury her trauma in the back of her brain. 40 years later in New York City, Aryana is a surgeon and WHO IS ONE OF HER PATIENTS but the SOLDIER who smuggled her out of the palace. Obviously this stirs up a crapload of buried baggage, and Aryana decides to go back to Kabul, face her past, and try to recover her family’s remains. WHEW. I loved the prose, and the structure of this book, so much. There were sentences that I want to remember forever. As a “fan” of Anastasia Romanov (the animated movie back in the day!!!), I was pleased to see references pop up. It was made all the more poignant by Aryana’s own experiences, and how much she identified with Anastasia really hit me deeply. This book was remarkable and emotional and a fantastic read. Instead of just jumping to another book, I think I need to sit with this one a bit. What a story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    No matter how I review this book I don't think that I will ever do it justice! This is the best book of the year soo far! I loved everything about this book! The realness, the love, the history, the culture and even the passion! Sitara is a daughter of a prominent family, her father is the right hand man of Sardar Daoud the progressive president of Afghanistan. Then one night everything changed. The communist plan an attack, a coup, assassinating the president and all of Sitara's family. She is t No matter how I review this book I don't think that I will ever do it justice! This is the best book of the year soo far! I loved everything about this book! The realness, the love, the history, the culture and even the passion! Sitara is a daughter of a prominent family, her father is the right hand man of Sardar Daoud the progressive president of Afghanistan. Then one night everything changed. The communist plan an attack, a coup, assassinating the president and all of Sitara's family. She is the sole survivor and the only reason that she survived was because a guard named Shair smuggled her out. Eventually he was able to get her to the American Ambassador to help smuggle her out of the country using her deceased sister's identity. Fast forward to 2008 forty years after that fatal night Shair ends up being one of Sitara's patients and seeing him brings up all the anger, resentment and emotions from that night. She wonders if Shair was at fault for her family's deaths and she is dealing with her now boyfriend Adam whom she has kept out of all her past. She is working on dealing with her emotions, and how she feels with Shair coming back into her life. Then she decides to go back to Afghanistan  after all this time to find the answers she needs and to find out exactly what happened that night when the coup happened. I loved this story, all of the raw emotions I was crying by the end of it. Sitara is so brave, and smart and she is trying her best to survive and she does but the hardships and the loss that she faces is very great she still survives and does what she needs to. This is the best book that I have read this year and I recommend it to anyone. It's a journey and it's a story that will reach into your heart and drag you along with the tale! I read it and then listened to the audiobook. It's soo amazing! Thank you Netgally, HarperCollins Publishers and Harper Audio. 

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sahil Pradhan

    Trauma. There is so much unwanted and untapped meanings to this, unwanted would be a major term here. Who wants trauma in their life? Who wants to revel in darkness till you find light through either a survivor or a helping hand? Most of us don't choose to stay inside trauma or to think about in nightmares, daydreams and moments of hypertension. Most of us are forced to live through it, often so normal that even a language becomes a trigger or a name becomes a bomb on the mentalscape. I name all Trauma. There is so much unwanted and untapped meanings to this, unwanted would be a major term here. Who wants trauma in their life? Who wants to revel in darkness till you find light through either a survivor or a helping hand? Most of us don't choose to stay inside trauma or to think about in nightmares, daydreams and moments of hypertension. Most of us are forced to live through it, often so normal that even a language becomes a trigger or a name becomes a bomb on the mentalscape. I name all this because I have lived inside trauma, not of the same magnanimity that the protagonist of the story faces but yes of smaller scales, yet of acute senses. When Sitara Zamani freaks out over the thoughts of her horrible memories of her childhood time in Kabul, I see an image of myself in her.  Children living in war zones have their own story and their own history. I remember an instance here where an author told how one of her friends who is a survivor of the devastating Vietnam War, cannot sleep with a fan on at night as it reminded him of the American helicopters dropping bombs over their villages. We may not feel the sense of immense struggle they have been through, nor would we ever be able to even if we try our best to understand. Trauma is like a cancer, it grows inside you, the pain gnawing your insides. You cannot explain it to anyone, nor would anyone understand, but you feel it, tearing you apart from inside.  Nadia Hashimi does an incredible job of tapping out these hints of trauma through her protagonist, Sitara Zamani in Sparks like Stars. Sitara's world is torn apart when the Soviet invaded Afghanistan and the president and major members of the Afghan community were executed which even included her family. Saved from this devastation by a soldier called as Shair, she escapes to a American diplomat's family and raises herself above all the trauma to become a successful surgeon, packing her past in a box and keeping it aside. Until one day, her savior comes to her clinic and the past she has not yet had closure with comes rushing back to her. She must take a journey to Kabul, her homeland to find her own history and to find solace with her traumatic past, it's gnarly memories and it's white toothed monsters.  Here is a book that could have been easily loud and large, set across tumultuous times of the start of numerous wars, some civil within the boundaries and some across those imaginary and political lines and during the times of dire struggles that are happening in the current times after the scrapping of the people’s special status in an abrupt manner. But Nadia Hashimi’s prowess over her tale, story, setting and language makes the book a astute page turner told in a concoction of colours, tales and voices. Not only does the story on Sitara's trauma of seeing death and destruction all around Kabul, but also of how human beings are torn apart from within due to wars and violence. Hashimi very well showcases the internal conflict that Sitara faces while in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, she explains with deep felt sorrow how Sitara and other Afghans see their homeland being decimated to smithereens, the beauty turning into dust and of how Sitara for whom the Americans are the saviour in the tale too are criticised by the citizens for destroying their land. Torn apart by these bi partisanship, Sitara again goes through the trauma of the past. It would have ended but as Sitara is transported to America to an adopted family, she turns into Aryana. Leaving past her memories, her gore and bloody history to rise and become successful. This again indeed is a conflict for Sitara, as is for most of us, is leaving the past and forgetting the bad memories that easy, just with a change of name or place does it go away?  Sparks like Stars does the job of instilling hope excruciatingly well crafted, it does not force down your throat the juice of positivity and hope amidst difficulties self help, but rather gives you both the trauma and hope in equal doses. You see hope leeping, you see it when Sitara does not fall victim to the genocide, you see it when she escapes and makes her own way in the world, you see it when she transforms herself and puts herself on a pedestal of her own making, you see it at the final scene when the unfolding of a trauma's deepest grief turns into a fleeting lighting strike of a hope.  Hashimi’s uniqueness lies in the way she carves out her characters, looking deep into their heart and minds, so that readers immediately empathise with them. Whether they are city dwellers or village squabblers, every ethnic and religious group suffers in the socio-political turmoil happening around them. And despite their cultural differences, their pain and daily struggles are alike. Most of them don’t understand politics until someone explains it to them. Their powerlessness in the face of forces beyond their control makes them one with residents of war-ravaged zones across the world.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thelma

    This was a very wonderful story, I really fell in love with this book, with the characters and the stories they went through. Sparks Like Stars, it's the story of an Afghan Woman that started when she was just a child, (1978) when everything happened, she was present at that terrible event that changed her life forever, and even the entire country, she lost all hope, she felt terrified to realize that she was now all alone, completely at the mercy of people who only wanted power and to destroy a This was a very wonderful story, I really fell in love with this book, with the characters and the stories they went through. Sparks Like Stars, it's the story of an Afghan Woman that started when she was just a child, (1978) when everything happened, she was present at that terrible event that changed her life forever, and even the entire country, she lost all hope, she felt terrified to realize that she was now all alone, completely at the mercy of people who only wanted power and to destroy a beautiful country that has never been the same. Sitara Zamani was the daughter of a prominent family she was very happy and enjoying her life like any other child but everything was stolen from her, her house, her childhood even her own family. After many years of that terrible event (2018), Sitara has never been the same, She started a new life in a new country with a new name (Aryana Shepherd) so she could survive. she hasn't been able to find a closer or even a happy life, she wants to find her family, she wants to make things right for them and for herself even if that means returning to the one place that started all. What a brilliant and magnificent book, I spend many times crying for Sitara, she really didn't deserve so many things that happened to her and to her family, I love that she found a mother a woman who took her under her wing and made her into a magnificent woman. Reading Sparks Like Stars not only opened my eyes to many things I didn't know about Afghanistan but somehow remind me of stuff that I heard before but never really understanding. Until the Outsiders come with their crazy ideas changing the laws and implementing things that were not kind at all for many of the citizens and the country. My favorite characters definitely Antonia and Tilly both women really brought so much joy to Sitara's life, they were her saviors and the only two people that risked everything they had to save a child who was all alone in the world. Antonia was a magnificent woman I really love how strong she was and how she lifted Sitara's spirit at all times. This was beautiful and I'll keep repeating this the whole review, Sparks Like Stars broke my heart many times in many ways for Sitara, for her family, for her country, and for the many atrocities, humans had done in the name of God or religion. This is the story of a woman trying to recover her heart, her soul, and her faith, trying to mend her broken parts that were left in her country. The Narrations by Mozhan Marnò were amazing, this is my first time listening to her work and I really enjoy it, she really gave so much to Sitara and the story, she literally brought so much depth and brought so many tears with her amazing performance. I'm totally a new fan of Nadia Hashimi, her words were beautiful, her story was very reliable and heartwrenching and I love that she brought up so many things that we didn't know, and the rest of the world needs to know.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peachy

    "The wound is the place where the light gets in." Rumi (as quoted in Sparks Like Stars) Some books cause you to read and reread a phrase because the words are confusing, others because you feel as though you simply must have missed the point, but the most engaging and poetic of tales - stories such as Sparks Like Stars - provide such deliciously rich prose that they tempt you to repeat the lines over again and over again, just so you can savour every layer of the tapestry of flavours. 'On "The wound is the place where the light gets in." Rumi (as quoted in Sparks Like Stars) Some books cause you to read and reread a phrase because the words are confusing, others because you feel as though you simply must have missed the point, but the most engaging and poetic of tales - stories such as Sparks Like Stars - provide such deliciously rich prose that they tempt you to repeat the lines over again and over again, just so you can savour every layer of the tapestry of flavours. 'On that night, giants were felled. A dizzying void swallowed all that had once been. But the trembling little girl could not succumb. She would be brave because her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky.' Tragedy and trauma reign for the first half of this impassioned novel, where we witness Sitara (Star), our bright and determined young hero as she refuses to let her ruinous circumstances darken the intensity of her brilliance. She bravely persists on towards a new life in a foreign land, only to have her past befall her decades later. 'There are people in this world who return to watery graveyards ‐- weary doctors, shell-shocked journalists, children of war. These are the people willing to cross hell's gates to prove life and loss are intertwined currents, capsizing some ships and righting others.' And thus, the second half of the story finds our survivor - and now, oncology surgeon - seek the truth about her treacherous past that she can no longer stifle by virtue of a laborous and frenetic existence. Reconciliation can sometimes be forged in the narrative of our memories, but what becomes of us when a window of truth lets in the light that we were historically unwilling to see? The only thing left to battle is our vulnerability. 'What if I forgive myself and nothing changes?' 'But untold histories live in shallow graves. Some nights, the cold wakes me and I find I've clawed my way out from under the covers. I count the stars to catch my breath.' I wholly enjoyed this slowly moving, lyrical sojurn through loss, family and love, that Nadia Hashimi has so skillfully shared. Given that this was my first of her offerings, I will eagerly work my way through all that she has written, and would highly recommend Sparks Like Stars if you haven't had the good fortune to pick it up yet.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bhavsi

    From the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell comes a scintillating new novel about family, loss, survival and our innate tendency to seek out the truth. Nadia Hashimi’s Sparks Like Stars shines and soars. This latest novel by Hashimi, an American writer of Afghan decent, follows Sitara Zamani after her entire family is assassinated and she is left alone to survive what no ten year old should ever have to face. Following the assassinations, Sitara is aided by a palace guard in Ka From the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell comes a scintillating new novel about family, loss, survival and our innate tendency to seek out the truth. Nadia Hashimi’s Sparks Like Stars shines and soars. This latest novel by Hashimi, an American writer of Afghan decent, follows Sitara Zamani after her entire family is assassinated and she is left alone to survive what no ten year old should ever have to face. Following the assassinations, Sitara is aided by a palace guard in Kabul who brings her to the home of an American diplomat. With the promise of safety in a new country Sitara changes her name to Aryana Shepard, moves to America, becomes a surgeon and leads the life of a mostly normal American-Afghan woman. But her past and her unanswered questions are brought to the forefront of her life when a familiar figure reappears 40 years after the fateful events in Kabul. Spanning over 40 years, Sparks Like Stars begins in 1978 Kabul then subtly jumps to New York in the year 2008. The story is masterfully written, researched and told as Hashimi remains true to the history of Afghanistan. Hashimi is an excellent storyteller with the rare ability to describe taut situations with just a sprinkle of hope. I found the story haunting and vivid as I reflected on the age of young Sitara and the distress she faces in searching for someone to trust. While the events of the story are traumatic, Hashimi handles this with care and eloquence. I would like to comment that the book’s synopsis gives too much away. I felt as if I knew the order of events due to the synopsis I’d read so when I actually got to new information the book was almost over. I chose to be concise with my synopsis because I would have liked to find out most of the details as I read or in this case listened (to the audiobook). This by no means makes the story itself less powerful. Sparks Like Stars is a noteworthy novel that truly shimmers. It is highly recommended for fans of Khaled Hosseini and Amita Trasi. Sparks Like Stars is out on March 2nd, 2021. Thank you to NetGalley, William Morrow, Harper Audio and Nadia Hashimi for this advance review copy.

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