We are in current day Afghanistan. Sami is Pashtun and a member of the land owner’s family. Fatima is Hazara, and her family works the land. They begin sneaking around seeing each other alone, which is strictly forbidden. Even though they have barely touched each other, when Sami’s cousin Rashid sees them together, his misguided beliefs about religion and the influence of the Taliban cause him to report what he has seen to the powerful leader, Mullah Latif. Rashid wants the two of them properly punished, but what happens causes much violence and begins an avalanche of events that threaten everyone involved. Rashid, now disillusioned with his beloved Taliban, becomes wrapped up in the violence and sees no way out. Fatima and Sami have no choice but to sacrifice everything.
If The Secret Sky doesn't invoke some powerful emotions in the reader, I don't know what will. I felt angry, and literally sick to my stomach at times. And always sympathetic. Living under constant threats, knowing that at any minute your life can be completely changed, or even taken from you, is too hard for me to relate to. But The Secret Sky does a good job giving you a taste of what life is like for many people in Afghanistan.
And, while the religious zealots were scary, nothing shocked me more than the behavior of Fatima's mother. I AM a mother, and I totally cannot fathom.....
Abawi does a good job of depicting Afghanistan as a beautiful place with many different peoples who are very kind and just want to live their lives as they see fit. The pacing is brisk, and there's never a dull moment.
The Secret Sky is a classic story of young people rebelling against their arranged marriages, but the consequences are deeply disturbing. Teens who enjoy these types of stories won't want to miss The Secret Sky.
Published by Philomel, September 2, 2014
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine
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