- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Flatiron Books; 1st edition (March 6, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781250074256
- ISBN-13: 978-1250074256
- ASIN: 1250074258
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 103 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel Hardcover – March 6, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of March 2018: I first imagined that the title of Girls Burn Brighter referred to the custom of widows immolating themselves upon their husbands' funeral pyres. While no women suffer that fate in this contemporary novel, that's practically the only bad thing that doesn't happen to best friends Poornima and Savitha, who grow up in rural India. The two young women become soul mates as they work long hours together in Poornima's father's weaving hut, but a late-night attack on Savitha forces her out of Poornima's life shortly before Poornima enters an arranged marriage. Shobha Rao's writing power builds in the spaces between words, her lean prose making the glimpses she shows of the breathtaking misogyny the girls endure all the more horrifying. This is not an emotionally gentle novel. You'll be outraged and hopeful, shocked and awakened. And throughout, Poornima and Savitha do burn brighter, fueled by their unshakable determination to find each other again. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
One of the Best Books of 2018 – So Far (PopSugar)
One of the Best Books of the Month (Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Vulture, PureWow, Paste, Book Riot, Signature Reads, and The Chicago Review of Books)
A Most Anticipated Book of 2018 (Goodreads, Bustle, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, BookRiot, PopSugar, The Chicago Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
“The debut novelist who has everyone talking this spring....The blurb on the cover of Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter uses a very particular and descriptive phrase by fellow author Charlie Jane Anders to describe what happens after reading the book: ‘Heart shards everywhere.’ If truer words have ever been spoken about the way a novel made us feel, we’d be hard-pressed to find them.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Engrossing…The pages keep turning, the language is lyrical and lovely, and many phrases call for pause and appreciation…Rao is a capable and confident writer, able to handle a vast and ambitious story line.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Skillfully rendered…. What’s most memorable about the novel, however, is the unadulterated, feminist voice.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Shobha Rao writes cleanly and eloquently about women who, without their brightness, might have been left to die in their beds. She writes them into life, into existence, into the light of day.” ―Los Angeles Times
“Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” ―Vogue
“An incredibly raw and compelling story about two young girls who forge a strong bond while weaving saris in a small Indian village plagued by sexism and misogyny.” ―InStyle
“Burns with intensity…Rao…is clearly a writer of great ambition.” ―USA Today
“A definite must-read for readers who love authors like Nadia Hashimi and Khaled Hosseini.” ―Bustle
“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” ―The Huffington Post
“An unbelievably beautiful and harrowing story of friendship and devotion.” ―Book Riot
“Harrowing and beautiful.... Trust us―your book club will want to know Rao's name.” ―BookPage
“A beautiful testament to female friendship.” ―PopSugar
“Girls Burn Brighter is a testament to the strength of female friendship in the face of unimaginable trauma...Shobha Rao astounds in her debut novel...not just with stunning prose, but with mastery of pacing, too...Over the course of its brutal and blazing trajectory, the novel never loses sight of the two strong, sensitive souls at its center, leaving the reader breathless in the presence of their power.” ―Shelf Awareness
“The book has enormous emotional power and a compelling narrative that will carry the reader through to its unsettling conclusion.... The novel is a powerful testament to how something as seemingly small as a private friendship between two girls can be a tool to resist oppression.” ―Dallas Morning News
“Girls Burn Brighter is the kind of book you open and fall into…Rao’s debut is a high achievement.” ―KQED, San Francisco
“Girls Burn Brighter is an absolutely stunning debut novel from an author you’ll want to follow for years to come.” ―Paste
“This debut novel is the perfect read for fans of Rupi Kaur.” ―Brit + Co
“Rao layers her debut novel with issues that face many young women worldwide, from street harassment and domestic abuse to oppressive societal norms.” ―Ms. Magazine
“The two fierce young women draw you in with their resilience and hope, and their enduring bond will both inspire and break readers’ hearts.” ―Apartment Therapy
“Unshakeable…the power and anguish in Rao’s novel builds, breaking your heart on one page even as it mends it, stronger, on the next.” ―Omnivoracious
“A confident debut novel set in India and America about the unbreakable bond between two girls. From the menacing nooks of India's underworld to the streets of Seattle, this searing novel traces the nuances of adulthood and the enduring power of childhood bonds.” ―The Chicago Review of Books
“Enchanting… The resplendent prose captures the nuances and intensity of two best friends on the brink of an uncertain and precarious adulthood… An incisive study of a friendship’s unbreakable bond.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This powerful, heart-wrenching novel and its two unforgettable heroines offer an extraordinary example of the strength that can be summoned in even the most terrible situations.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Highly recommended for book discussion groups, this tale of sacrifice, exploitation, and reclamation is not to be missed.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“Stirring…affecting…The narrative’s thematic consistency and emotional urgency will pull readers along.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Rao writes exquisite sentences…By the end of Girls Burn Brighter, Poornima and Savitha earn their places in the hearts of readers.” ―Woodbury Magazine
“This novel burnt up my weekend. With beautiful language, warm friendships, and vivid images, once I started reading I could not stop. It’s a story of struggle and survival. Female friendship is the lifeline.” ―Claire Cameron, author of The Bear and The Last Neanderthal
“Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao blew my heart up. Heart-shards everywhere. I am in awe of the warmth and humanity in this book, even as it explores some incredibly dark places. I’m going to be thinking about Girls Burn Brighter for a while, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about it.” ―Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
Top customer reviews
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The two young women are raised in a rural town in India where poverty is rampant, customs are adhered to without question, but they see a way out. Determined to help themselves. Their story is very telling of our times today.
Told without holding back a single emotion, raging with determination, not hatred, GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER longs to take you to the other side of humanity. To a world where women are treated with respect, where they can be accomplished and not subservient.
This book is horrifying, eye-opening, well written, and above all hopeful. It literally made my heart explode. On multiple levels and it is not one you would soon forget.
The good: very well written with strong characters and a plot that keeps you on the enge of your seat. Taught me a lot about India and human trafficking- something I was aware of, but knew very little about. The best part is the strength of the two heroines throughout the novel and the relationship between them.
The bad: this is an ugly topic with some very horrifying scenes throughout the book. It is not a light read and there are not too many times one will smile (though I did a handful of times). The ending was also very abrupt and not too believable. Seemed like there needed to be at least another 30 pages or so.
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.
Cons: I could have done with less polemics and stereotyping. I am well aware what women have had to survive, but it seemed to be heightened here for the most effect. The graphic nature of some of the events here bothered me not because they were so hellish but because they seemed to be overreaching in order to bring her point home. Although the plot was compelling in some way,s it dragged at times and was often too contrived.
I'm not sorry that I read the book, but I would recommend it mostly to those whose should be made aware of the plight of women today.