The beauty which is revealed through [Hashimi's] unraveling, survival and search for her own resilience comes from a place of authenticity — she is a child of Afghanistan and her story isn't imposed, it's part and parcel of her heritage ... The question of whether Sitara can go home again is the existential and physical journey Hashimi conjures, in a story at once surreal and deeply rooted in the history of Afghanistan's modern turmoil and ancient enchantment. I found myself eagerly following her adventure in a way I hadn't remembered in a long time — the way a child reads a new book about the unknown, impatient for the next twist and turn of the story, worried about the safety of the heroine, wondering if I could be as brave and bold as her ... She puts her medical background (she's a pediatrician) and her lived experience as a daughter of Afghan immigrants to good use, blending history, heritage, culture and traditions within a narrative that's as suspenseful as it is emotionally compelling. The place where Sitara's struggle to assimilate, grief and survivor's guilt intersect is where Hashimi's story reaches its zenith, and as her stepmother consoles her, we're compelled to both look and listen ... In Hashimi's beguiling tale of Sitara's survival, a young girl calls us to see. And though her truth becomes our discovery, Hashimi sets it at the disposal of the Afghan people, centered within the shadow of their suffering ... Hashimi beautifully communicates the answer to these questions — and catharsis when it arrives is tenderly wrought.
... not a novel that looks away from pain. Hashimi has taken an inventory of the toll childhood instability takes on a person’s emotional well-being ... Hashimi’s novel conveys its themes through a mix of frank and poetic language. Maxims from Aryana’s father operate as a bridge between past and present, which at times feels contrived given the first-person narration. Still, Aryana is an intriguing character who likens herself to Anastasia Romanov, whose disputed escape from her family’s political execution becomes a kind of obsession for Aryana ... an elegiac tribute to family and civilization—fragile collective entities that should be cherished while they still hold.
... intimate if lackluster ... While Hashimi rushes through Aryana’s intervening years in the U.S., and the plot is fairly predictable, she does a good job developing Aryana’s character. Still, this one fails to leave a mark.