Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"A Sister to Honor" by Lucy Ferriss

Shahid Satar is a rising star in the squash world, having won a scholarship to play squash at an American University. With the costs of his University education being covered by a rich, childless uncle, Shahid focuses on his studies and his sport with an unwavering concentration.

His sister, Afia, studious and modest, wants nothing more than to study to become a doctor in America with her brother. As a woman in northern Pakistan her educational options are quite limited if she stays at home. The decision is made to send Afia to America and Shahid is charged with looking after his sister and protecting the family honor by ensuring that Afia remains chaste.

When a photo surfaces online of Afia holding hands with an American boy her honor is called into question, as well as the honor of her whole family, and she is no longer safe- not even from the family that claims to love her.

I've always enjoyed reading about other cultures and the ways that they do things. I think that it is the differences between us that makes life so interesting! I found A Sister to Honor fascinating. The author Lucy Ferriss went to great lengths to ensure that her portrayal of a culture so different from her own was accurate, even travelling to the provinces of northern Pakistan and getting to know them as a people. As a result the book had a very authentic feel to it and I was alternately fascinated and horrified by how women are treated in that particular area. Both aspects of this culture were expressed in a particularly poignant portion of the book when Afia and Shahid return home for a family wedding. On one hand the women come together in their traditions and bond before the wedding, yet while Afia is at the wedding she discovers that a formerly close friend was mutilated by her own family for putting the family's honor at risk. It is such a fascinating contrast and one that I would be interested in finding out more about.

Author Ferriss manages to shock me as well. There is a scene in the book that floored me, one that I was absolutely not expecting and it horrified me. Ferriss has a gift for creating characters that make us feel something, from the wide-eyed innocent to the sinister half-brother with something to prove.

A Sister to Honor felt authentic and it made me appreciate the fact that I live in a culture that allows me to be me. It managed to be emotional and tragic and eye-opening and humbling all at the same time. Ferriss certainly has a gift for drawing her readers into a story and not releasing them until long after the last page has been read. A Sister to Honor and its message is something that will stay with me for quite some time. My thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.

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