Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia, Thanhha Lai, and Rebecca Stead, internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is a coming-of-age journey set in modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy. Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune, and her aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of four sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. Their transformation won’t last forever, though—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure. Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for adults, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, was a bestseller that shares a bacha posh character with One Half from the East.
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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.