A heart-wrenching look at Afghan culture through the eyes of a child
In present-day Afghanistan, after a season of misfortune, Obayda and her family must move to a small town to live under the care of her uncle and his family. In a bid for good luck, her mother decides her daughter Obayda will become her son, Obayd—a bacha posh. In the blink of an eye, Obayd becomes a boy with the kind of freedom she’s never experienced. It’s a heady thing for a girl who has been sheltered under a mantle of rules and traditions her whole life.
As Obayd’s tale unfolds, the author highlights gender inequalities among the Afghan cultures. Gender equality is something I’m passionate about so I was quick to pick this book up. (And it’s such a beautifully designed book!)
It is important to note that the intended audience is young readers, ages 8 to 12. As an adult reader, the story might not resonate as a powerful, gritty look at the subject matter. But for the intended age, the book is done quite well and is a great tool to help young girls see beyond their own cultures and appreciate the freedoms they have.
I was disappointed to see the story end without bringing closure to Rahima’s story. Her story ended so abruptly, like a thread of the main story that was just forgotten once the two bacha posh went their separate ways. However, I was happy to see that Rahima’s story continues in an earlier novel, “The Pearl That Broke Its Shell.”
“One Half From The East” is an eye-opening story that will surely foster a rich dialogue between parents/teachers and children on the subject of gender roles and inequality.