"A must-read saga about borders, barriers, and the resolve of one courageous mother fighting to cross over.”
-- O, the Oprah Magazine
"A heartfelt story of courage amidst a world short on compassion."
-- Toronto Star
Behind the Story
In Kabul, we meet Fereiba, a schoolteacher who has put her troubled childhood behind her as she finds love in an arranged marriage. But Fereiba's comfortable life implodes when the Taliban rise to power and her family becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime. Forced to flee with her three children, Fereiba has one hope for survival: to seek refuge with her sister's family in London. Traveling with forged papers and depending on the kindness of strangers, Fereiba and the children make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness, the start of a harrowing journey that reduces her from a respected wife and mother to a desperate refugee.
Fereiba and her family fall into the shadowy underground network of the undocumented who haunt the streets of Europe's cities. And then, in a busy market square in Athens, their fates takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family. Without his mother, Saleem is forced, abruptly and unforgivingly, to come of age in a world of human trafficking and squalid refugee camps.
Heartbroken, Fereiba has no choice but to continue on with only her daughter and baby. Mother and son cross border after perilous border, risking their lives in the hope of finding a place where they can be a family again.
Beyond the Story - An Author's Note
Often, I have readers tell me that my story made them want to learn more - it is incredibly rewarding to know that the connection to the characters and their plight extends beyond the final page and into the real world. This novel, like THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL, is a work of fiction based on reality. For readers interested in going beyond the story, Patras and the Jungle of Calais are real places, as is the Chunnel between France and England. These countries are now, understandably, overwhelmed by the number of people trying to reach their soils. Greece's islands, like Kos, are a primary point of entry and bear the brunt of the crisis. When I wrote this story, the migrant situation was nowhere near the epic proportions it has now reached. It's chilling to me to read about individuals venturing into the dangerous Chunnel and almost making it across. The perilous journeys of the displaced can indeed by deadly. There are many organizations like the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Human Rights Watch working hard to advocate for those individuals and documenting the staggering rise in the number of displaced worldwide (60 million people) and their harrowing attempts to redefine home. For footage and gritty documentary shorts on the refugees of Myanmar, Syria, the Kurds fleeing the Islamic State or the dilemma on how to manage Calais, check out Vice's many pieces available on YouTube.
Order the Book
Expertly depicting the anxiety and excitement that accompanies a new life, Hashimi’s gripping page-turner is perfect for book clubs."
-- Library Journal (starred review)
A beautifully rendered novel with fully wrought characters and the dramatic backdrop of a world gone insane. It’s a tale for our times and a much more emotional way to look at the state of the world than any bland newspaper reporting could present."
-- Bookreporter review
With grace and sensitivity, Hashimi illuminates the harrowing odysseys and numerous dangers refugees contend with in their quest for a safe haven."
-- Booklist review
"The struggles experienced by the dispossessed come to life in this universalizing picture of human resilience...Nadia Hashimi has gifted the reader with an unforgettable lesson in human hardships and the will to survive with dignity."
-- Dr. Olga Davidson, Boston University