When Sharifa and her husband travel to India, she expects her time will be spent researching her great-great grandfather, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist. However, what she doesn’t expect is to be swept up in the story of his four wives, oddly excluded from her family history.
As Sharifa’s imagination is overtaken with these four women, she finds herself in the middle of another female-centered conflict - a conservative, religious ritual that has been going on for centuries. Khatna, or the act of female genital cutting, may be an age-old tradition, but women in India are now taking opposite sides, including Sharifa’s two favorite cousins.
As she tries to find a middle ground, Sharifa’s research excavates an unexpected truth, one that will force her to take a position in this rich novel about resistance and finding your way between cultural traditions and modern values.
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Wow!!! And a heads up
Another fascinating book about life in a particular part of India. The heroine goes back to India from her home in the United States of America and researches her family history. As she is getting re-acquainted with some of her female cousins, the story goes back and forth between the early 20th and early 21st centuries. Well written, with segues making the changeovers easy to follow. The heads up part is what I consider to be important in the description of this book. I did love it. It does get into the topic of khatna, or FGM (female genital mutilation), so there is some very plain talk about female physiology and sex. I'm old fashioned and am generally not interested in this kind of writing. But, for me, unlike the Shades of Gray book, which some people have called lite porn, I found this book to be actually quite wholesome, informative, and poignant. I enjoyed the reader's accent very much. It is easy to understand her pronunciation, although to me, it is quite Indian sounding. Her tonal inflections are also appropriately dramatic, deadly serious, and everything in between, as the narrative requires. I do recommend this book.