...all the beacons of the world, standing all in a row, couldn't save her' - Savitha, Girls Burn Brighter
Obliterated. Broken. Despaired. Angry. Despondent. Heartbroken. Helpless. Hopeful. Wretched. Dejected. Lost. Furious. Disappointed. Hopeless.
These are all the words I would use to describe the way I felt during and after this read. Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao broke my spirit and crushed all hope. This is a story of two girls turned young women that begin their lives in India. We meet Poornima and Savitha in Indravalli and follow along as they become the best of friends and furthermore the victims of their circumstances. The book is broken down into multiple sections which I liked. In fact, I needed those breaks. My heart and my mind needed those points of pause, as I read and digested the lives of these two girls that I immediately fell in love with. We begin with the section that introduces us to Poornima and Savitha as well as where they live, Indravalli. As the girls get slightly older and their lives evolve (quickly) we are then given separate sections for each of their lives. The characters, Poornima and Savitha, are richly developed and so lovable. Their spirits, their fire, their fierceness rubbed off on me in a way I wasn't expecting or prepared for.
Despite my love for these girls and this book literally giving me All. The. Feels. This is a tough read. This is one that you want to be prepared for going in. If you are looking for a heavy read that is off the charts empathy wise, this will definitely fit that bill. There are multiple difficult situations in this book and while the majority of them aren't gratuitous, you never feel as though the bleeding stops. Hope rises up from the ashes and you try to grab it before it's gone, but you can't.
Know that there is no rainbow after the tsunami.
The ending left me wanting more. I. NEED. More. Is there a sequel? I don't know, but my mind wants to know what's next even though my heart isn't sure it can handle what might be next.
This novel might be a work of fiction but the horrors found between the covers are a cruel reality for many women. If you desire learning about other parts of the world from marginalized voices this book is exactly what you are looking for. Stamp your reading passport with this tale from India that will obliterate your heart. This book changed me. I am not the same woman I was before I read it.
'We were once children, she thought; we were once little girls. We once played in the dirt under the shade of a tree.' -Savitha, Girls Burn Brighter
I feel almost guilty suggesting you read this book knowing what you will be put through. I was fortunate to buddy read this along with two fellow book lovers, Stacey and Megan. I am so thankful I read this as part of a group. We all needed to talk about this book and how it made us feel. I highly recommend reading this with a buddy or with your book club, as opposed to reading it alone.
Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me this free copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.