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Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel

Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel

Written by Shobha Rao

Narrated by Soneela Nankani


Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel

Written by Shobha Rao

Narrated by Soneela Nankani

ratings:
4/5 (49 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 6, 2018
ISBN:
9781427295705
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Girls Burn Brighter is a searing, electrifying debut audiobook set in India and America. Irrepresible 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.

Publisher:
Released:
Mar 6, 2018
ISBN:
9781427295705
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

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.


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Reviews

What people think about Girls Burn Brighter

4.0
49 ratings / 16 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    My Takeaway“That's the way it is: If two people want to be together, they'll find a way. They'll forge a way.”Shobha Rao, Girls Burn BrighterEvery now and then you come across a story that deeply moves you and pulls on the strings of your heart. Girls Burn Brighter is one of those extraordinary and special novels. Rao is such an amazing and gifted storyteller! I honestly cannot praise her enough. Girls Burn Brighter is the kind of book I see myself reading repeatedly. Yes, it's that beautifully written! Though Poornima and Savitha are dealt such terrifying and unpleasant setbacks, their spirit and determination are what keep their hopes alive. I beg you to read this book with an open heart and mind because it is not a light read. Girls Burn Brighter deals with difficult topics, such as human trafficking, sex trade, misogyny, rape, and poverty. However, it is also about the unbreakable love and bond between two friends. Yes, some parts will be tough, but so worth it. Poornima and Savitha will live in my heart forever. I have to thank my wonderful book club Lit on H St for choosing such a fantastic novel!!
  • (4/5)
    I always enjoy Indian fiction and this story, with the vividly drawn characters and setting, is pretty solid. A little neatly wrapped up/coincidental/manipulated in the end, but not in a way that takes away from the path that took the two women to find each other again.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book about 2 girls growing up in India. They were great friends until something tragic happened to one and she left without telling her best friend. The book follows each girl telling what happens in their lives and how they end up searching for each other. I was disappointed with the ending as I wanted their story to go on.
  • (4/5)
    The amazing strength of the two female protagonists made me fall in love with them. Roe draws the readers into the lives of the women in India where the reader feels all of their emotions. Although many of their experiences are painful, it's written in such a way that there is hope. Her writing is exquisite. This was a 5 star book for me until the last chapter. I didn't mind the last page, but the pages leading up to it felt contrived and not as real as the rest of the novel. I will still highly recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    Girls Burn Brighter
    By Shobha Rao
    2018
    Flatiron

    This left me breathless....if u get the chance to read this, do!! It will reach into your heart and soul, and inspire your spirit. Damn!! This is what fiction is all about.
  • (4/5)
    When poverty is so overwhelming, girls in India have no say in their future. It’s a book you want to put down because of the tragedy but the girls’ self-determination in overcoming huge obstacles. If nothing else, you’ll be made aware of the horrors of human trafficking.
  • (4/5)
    Really good. The characters were well written and their situations heartbreaking. Through all their troubles, and they had many between them, their friendship was often the only bright light in their lives.I received an advanced copy from a Goodreads giveaway.
  • (3/5)
    Girls burn brighter by Rao_ Shobha Book starts out with a girl that is born and raised in India and her mother dies. The father over time hires another woman to come and tend to the looms.Girl is now sent out to get married-her family paid another. Enjoyed learning of the spices involved and how important they are.Her husband not only abuses her physically but after 2 years as she's not become pregnant they toss hot oil on her face and neck. The father in law gives her a ticket back home.She uses it to go find her friend-who had refused to marry her father and she is able to track her down. The train tracks are ruined but there's a man who will help her raise money til she has enough to travel again.It's a brothel and I can't read any more of this book, too brutal and abusive for my likes.I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
  • (5/5)
    Very reminiscent of another human trafficking story, A Walk Across The Sun, this novel is a heartbreaking look at two girls who meet in a poverty-stricken Northern India village where they are useful only as slave labor and marriage fodder. Poornima (her name means moon) and Savitha (sun) meet when Savitha is hired as a weaver to replace Poornima's mother, dead of cancer. The girls develop the strongest connection that remains despite the misery of a terrible marriage for one and for the other, a violent rape. The writing handles both the practical and lyrical with beauty and grace, and I was brought to tears by several passages, by events in the narrative, and even by the one slightly sympathetic male character who is caught up in the misery of his family's business. The race to the conclusion is breathtaking. An almost perfect debut.
  • (4/5)
    Oh my! This one took my breath and my soul. A heartbreaking yet somehow ever hopeful story of the humiliation and abuse of two young women with no one or nothing to depend on but their love for each other. Although the story begins in India, it continues in the US as does the disregard for the value of the lives of these two women. Read at your own peril, as this book will not let you remain unmoved. I will not soon stop thinking of Poornima and Savitha and the real women like them who suffer ungodly abasement because of poverty and their sex. I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 Poornima and Savitha are two teenage girls living in various degrees of poverty. When Savitha is hired to help with the family livlihood of making saris, they become close friends. So much so that they seek each other out at every turn. A cruel act will send Savitha on the run, and shortly after Poornima will run from a horrible situation she finds herself in, now turning her attention to reuniting with her friend.The story takes us from India to the United States, chapters alternate between the girls as they tell their story. Will take us from arranged marriages, human trafficking, and the plight of those used for cheap labor in the United States. Not an easy book to read, so many horrific things happen to these girls, alone in the world without a protector. I had to keep putting the book down, turning to something else, the abuse almost relentless at times. I felt so for these young women.The title is to show that despite what these girls go through they still retain an inner light, with thoughts of their friendship to sustain them. Regardless what they go through, these are the thoughts that keep them going, the hope of seeing each other again. So, it is also a novel of a very special frirndship. That is what also kept me reading. Would they find each other again?
  • (5/5)
    A very difficult book to read. Even if only half of the story is based in fact it is somewhat unbelievable. We tend to forget in the west how devalued a woman is and what happens to girls especially those who are poor. I think it would have been nicer if there were just a few more nice honorable people in the book but maybe that is not reality.READ THIS BOOK
  • (4/5)
    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! What the hell!! After reading this book I wanted to punch things, scream into the void, yell at passersby. I wanted to RAGE!! I still feel a deep pit of despair in my belly when I think about this book. This will eat you up from the inside and make you feel. If you're triggered by rape, violence, sodomy, and enslavement take a long hard pass on this book. The book is told from two perspectives, that of Poornima and Savitha; two young Indian girls trying to survive poverty in rural India. Poornima's family is a little better off and her father hires Savitha to help run the loom since his wife his past. When the two girls meet they become each other's first and only friend. Suddenly the world has potential. All that changes however when Savitha is brutalized one night; her innocence stolen. She runs away in grief and in shame and the two girls spend the entire novel trying to escape from their horrible situations and find each other again. There is an arranged marriage for Poornima which results in an abusive husband who horribly disfigures her face with a pan of burning oil. She escapes only to be taken in by a brothel to run their books. While there she discovers that Savitha had been there; having been sold into sex slavery. The book is one big cat and mouse game of horror. It's beautifully written, but chills you to the bone. You just want the best for these girls! Why is the world so cruel!?!? Please read so we can discuss and cry about it over some drinks. I need a friend.
  • (4/5)
    *I received a copy of this book through a GoodReads Giveaway.*Wow, this book is definitely a roller coaster ride. Starting off in a small Indian village, the young girls Poornima and Savitha become friends, a friendship that remains intact despite lack of contact, and the horrors each of them endure. I won't spoil anything, but Poornima and Savitha are impressive for what they live through and yet manage to achieve. If you're feeling down, this book could certainly raise your spirits.
  • (4/5)
    This is a powerful and often horrific book about the persistence of the caste system and the status of women in modern-day India. Poormina is the young, motherless daughter of a weaver who constantly demeans his daughter for her lack of beauty and her dark skin. She befriends Savitha, a beautiful young woman of even lower status. Her father is an alcoholic who has driven his family deeper into poverty, forcing her to take a job as a weaver in Poormina's father's shop. The girls' friendship is the sole source of joy in their lives. So it's no surprise when even this is ripped apart by an act of violence. Their lives take disparate yet equally horrific paths. Savitha leaves her town rather than being forced into marriage with a hated man and, in order to survive, gets caught up in the sex trade--and even worse. Poormina accepts her fate and marries a man with a deformed hand and a cruel family that holds her responsible for everything that displeases them. She, too, becomes a victim of violence and sets out on her own to search for her lost friend.The suffering of both women is appalling and stomach-churning, but the reader can't help but admire their strength, cleverness, and persistence. One wonders what they might have achieved in a world where they were seen as equals. In their search for one another, the women cross continents and get the better of the men around them. If I have a criticism of the book, it's that it relies too much on coincidence, both for suspense and resolution.
  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Thank you to Flatiron, the author and my girl @fictionalflowerday (Lorna!) for the opportunity to read this book in advance.I found this story to have a lot of fascinating potential, but it truly just fell completely flat for me and I was so disappointed.To tell the complete truth, I was bored. Contrary to the review on the cover, there were not "heart shards everywhere." Savitha and Poornima were just...weird. They had horrific things happen to them and somehow, I didn't care all that much. Maybe it's because I'm desensitized to sexual violence against women in the age we live in, but I've read much more provoking accounts (fictionalized or factual) about sexual violence against women that have been like a knife to the gut. There was no visceral or emotional reaction from me with these two girls. I didn't like them. I thought they were selfish. Instant soul-mates, I can deal with that. I can understand it and sympathize with it, even when not given much detail or background about how the relationship was formed. I didn't question why these two became inseparable, or why they were each other's links to survival, yet I just didn't feel any connection to them. Why did they feel the need to save each other from sexual violence and not the countless other girls they came in contact with? Why just each other? AND WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ENDING? We went through all that mess of traversing continents and horrible crimes against them only to NOT HAVE A REUNION? WE SAW THE DOOR HANDLE TURN AND SAID GOODBYE TO THE STORY? NOPE. Nope. No. Not worth it. Waste of my time, sorry. Anyway, this was a big let down for me, unfortunately. I've read far more interesting and attention-grabbing stories of women who went through hell but were likeable, too. I don't know. Very little about this story worked for me.

    1 person found this helpful