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Girls Burn Brighter
Cover of Girls Burn Brighter
Girls Burn Brighter
A Novel
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"Soneela Nankani narrates this painful coming-of-age story in a subdued style that draws even more sympathy from the listener...This is an expertly told story of survival, courage, and grit that fans...
"Soneela Nankani narrates this painful coming-of-age story in a subdued style that draws even more sympathy from the listener...This is an expertly told story of survival, courage, and grit that fans...
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  • "Soneela Nankani narrates this painful coming-of-age story in a subdued style that draws even more sympathy from the listener...This is an expertly told story of survival, courage, and grit that fans of world literature will enjoy." - AudioFile Magazine

    Girls Burn Brighter is a searing, electrifying debut audiobook set in India and America. Irrepressible author Shobha Rao examines the extraordinary bond between two girls, driven apart by circumstances, but relentless in their search for one another.

    Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them. They are poor. They are driven. And they are girls.

    When Poornima was just a toddler, she was about to fall into a river. Her mother, beside herself, screamed at her father to grab her. But he hesitated: "I was standing there, and I was thinking...She's just a girl. Let her go...That's the thing with girls, isn't it...You think, Push. That's all it would take. Just one little push."

    After her mother's death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to take care of 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 the arranged marriage her father is desperate to secure for her. 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 listeners to two heroines who never allow the hope that burns within them to be extinguished.

    More praise for Girls Burn Brighter:

    "A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world, Shobha Rao's first novel, Girls Burn Brighter...follows an incandescent friendship." — Vogue

    "The resplendent prose captures the nuances and intensity of two best friends on the brink of an uncertain and precarious adulthood...An incisive study of a friendship's unbreakable bond." - Kirkus

    "In this harsh but vibrant debut, two best friends navigate the landscape of India at the dawn of the new millennium. Rao's feminist commentary is particularly potent, situating a powerful bond in restrictive, patriarchal structures." — Entertainment Weekly

About the Author-

  • Shobha Rao moved to the U.S. from India at the age of seven. She is the winner of the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, awarded by Nimrod International Journal. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and is the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship. Her story "Kavitha and Mustafa" was chosen by T.C. Boyle for inclusion in the Best American Short Stories 2015. She lives in San Francisco. An Unrestored Woman is her debut.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 8, 2018
    Rao’s stirring debut novel (following the collection An Unrestored Woman) explores how far a woman will go to recapture the one sustaining relationship in her life. It’s 2001, and Poornima and Savitha are both considered poor marriage prospects in their Indian village of Indravalli, Poornima because she’s unattractive and defiant, Savitha because her family is desperately poor. When the two girls become acquainted, they recognize the value in one another that the rest of their world has failed to acknowledge. When, on the eve of Poornima’s eventual wedding to a man with imperfections of his own, tragedy befalls Savitha, the two girls are separated, seemingly forever. Affecting and rich in dramatic irony, the young women’s stories—told in alternating sections—follow their travels from village to city and eventually from India to Seattle. Although lengthy metaphysical musings threaten at times to derail the momentum, the narrative’s thematic consistency and emotional urgency will pull readers along. Vivid depictions of contemporary Indian culture and harrowing accounts of human trafficking—along with the novel’s ambiguous ending—will leave readers, and book clubs, with much to ponder and discuss.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2018

    Difficult life circumstances bring together two Indian village girls: Poornima meets Savitha because Poornima's recently widowed father needs help weaving saris; clever, kind Savitha must help support her impoverished family. The pair are soon inseparable, nurturing each other in a society in which their gender dooms them as financial liabilities to be bartered off. And then a horrifying act against Savitha sets her adrift in a life of unrelenting cruelty. Poornima is pushed into a loveless marriage, where she's abused almost beyond recognition. When she finally escapes, her unwavering determination to find Savitha keeps her alive, as she painstakingly plots her path through the international underworld of sex slavery and trafficking to reunite somehow, somewhere, with her missing soulmate. Rao's (An Unrestored Woman) debut novel finds the ideal narrator in Soneela Nankani, who remains consistently effective in voicing her two protagonists while also displaying impressively subtle adaptations for the rest of the diverse cast, from a powerlessly adoring father to a wretchedly angry mother-in-law, from an American airport stranger to a brutally abusive pimp. VERDICT A radiant love story set amid searing inhumanity, these Girls will surely be bright beacons in all library collections. ["Highly recommended for book discussion groups, this tale of sacrifice, exploitation, and reclamation is not to be missed": LJ 1/18 starred review of the Flatiron: Macmillan hc.]--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • AudioFile Magazine In India, Poornima is barely a teenager when she loses her mother to cancer. Accompanying this loss is the utter indifference of her father, who seeks to marry her off. Soneela Nankani narrates this painful coming-of-age story in a subdued style that draws even more sympathy from the listener. Nankani conveys Poornima's turbulent inner world with a sensitive delivery that captures her isolation in the village of her birth. When she meets a feisty new friend, the pace of the narration picks up, carrying us headlong into unexpected suffering. This is an expertly told story of survival, courage, and grit that fans of world literature will enjoy. M.R. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine

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    Macmillan Audio
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A Novel
Shobha Rao
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