Author: Nadia Hashimi
Narrator: Mozhan Marno
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, The House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.
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: Forty 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.
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.
About the Author
Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician turned novelist who draws on her Afghan culture to craft internationally bestselling books for adults as well as young readers. Her novels span generations and continents, taking on themes like forced migration, conflict, poverty, misogyny, colonialism, and addiction. She enjoys conversations with readers of all ages in libraries, book festivals, classrooms, and living rooms. With translations in seventeen languages, she’s connected with readers around the world.
Nadia was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. Her mother, granddaughter of a notable Afghan poet, traveled to Europe to obtain a Master’s degree in civil engineering and her father came to the United States, where he worked hard to fulfill his American dream and build a new, brighter life for his immediate and extended family. Nadia was fortunate to be surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an integral part of their daily lives.
Nadia graduated from Brandeis University with degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. She studied medicine in Brooklyn, New York, and then completed her pediatric residency training at NYU and Bellevue hospitals before moving to Maryland with her husband. On days off from a busy emergency room and after years of avid reading, she began crafting stories that drew on her heritage and the complex experiences of Afghans.
In 2003, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents who had not returned to their homeland since leaving in the 1970s. She continues to serve on boards of organizations committed to educating and nurturing Afghanistan’s most vulnerable children and empowering the female leaders of tomorrow. She is a member of the US-Afghan Women’s Council and an advisor to Kallion, an organization that seeks to elevate leadership through humanities. Locally, she serves as a Montgomery County health care commissioner and organizing committee member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.
She and her husband are the beaming parents of four curious, rock star children, an African Grey parrot named Nickel who reminds the kids to brush their teeth, and Justice, the hungriest Rhodesian Ridgeback you’ve ever met.