Nadia Hashimi's first YA novel is a coming-of-age story with a twist. Set in modern-day Afghanistan, we meet Obayda, the youngest girl of four sisters, who becomes a bacha posh (a preteen girl dressed as a boy) to bring her family luck.
Obayda, now Obayd, must live as though she were a boy however, is struggling as he straddles both worlds until he meets another bacha posh, Rahim. Together they try to find a way to make their transformations stick so that they can enjoy their newfound freedoms.
Hashimi explores the bacha posh in The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, and crosses over the character of Rahima/Rahim. She was interested in this part of Afghanistan's past after reading an article about how a king would use women, dressed as men, to guard his harem (trust no man!). These women are generations apart, being dressed as boys in a country where being female is a consequence.
This book is a wonderful story of tenacity, friendship, and survival set against a backdrop of harsh realities. Give it a read, you will not be disappointed.