“Incandescent…A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” ―Vogue
“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” ―The Huffington Post
An electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.
Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.
Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.
An Amazon Best Book of March 2018: I first imagined that the title of Girls Burn Brighter referred to the custom of widows immolating themselves upon their husbands’ funeral pyres. While no women suffer that fate in this contemporary novel, that’s practically the only bad thing that doesn’t happen to best friends Poornima and Savitha, who grow up in rural India. The two young women become soul mates as they work long hours together in Poornima’s father’s weaving hut, but a late-night attack on Savitha forces her out of Poornima’s life shortly before Poornima enters an arranged marriage. Shobha Rao’s writing power builds in the spaces between words, her lean prose making the glimpses she shows of the breathtaking misogyny the girls endure all the more horrifying. This is not an emotionally gentle novel. You’ll be outraged and hopeful, shocked and awakened. And throughout, Poornima and Savitha do burn brighter, fueled by their unshakable determination to find each other again. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
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