//I was provided with the ARC of this book by HarperCollins India. That in no way affects my opinion.
Title : One Hald From the East
Author : Nadia Hashimi
Genre : Middle-grade, Contemporary
Goodreads summary :
Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.
Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.
One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.
Now Obayda is Obayd.
Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.
But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.
Writing this review is difficult, because even though I did appreciate the basic parts/aspects of this book, I had an issue with almost everything else; and now that I sit down to express all my thoughts on this book – nearly a week after finishing it – I realize that I don’t even have that much to say. All in all, One Half From the East dared (and tried) to give out a bold message, but which came out rather ineffectucal and underwhelming.
The story follows Obayda and her family, who, after a recent disaster have been forced to move from Kabul to a small village in Afghanistan. Due to the lack of money and a sudden change in lifestyle, they’re faced with problems, when suddenly one of their family members comes up with an idea to turn Obayda into a boy. Meaning, dress her up as a boy so as to bring ‘good luck’ (a boy) into the family so that their life gets better.
Straight up, I have to say that the book did well in portraying certain orthodox mindsets of people, which are prevalent even today. The whole belief that a boy child is good luck and better and even the classification of gender roles was very truly portrayed in the book. I can understand how it might come off as sexist to some people, but trust me, it’s reality.
However, even though the book does portray this reality, it wholeheartedly tries to convince you that the gender of the child does not matter when it comes to love and affection. It takes a stand against such division, and tries to convince the reader that be it a girl or boy, it’s all the same. So? A strong portrayal of reality and an even stronger message.
But is it really that impactful? Does that message stand clear and strong, and make its mark? Sadly, no. A weak plot, bland writing and a somewhat boring narrative make the book a difficulty to get through.
The plot of the book itself was weak, and it had loopholes. The whole concept of how the girl-to-boy change works, isn’t explained at all, it’s just mentioned in the book to be a common thing, but how it’s done or…nothing really is said about it.
The writing of the book was so plain and bad. For a book which isn’t much plot-wise, it really has to have strong writing and characetrization. I get that the book, being written from the point of view of a child, cannot be much advanced but it would’ve been much better had it been written better from someone else’s POV. That would’ve added colour.
All in all, I didn’t regret reading the book, but I could’ve done without it. There are quite a few things I wish had been done differently, and just imagining some of those is making me think how amazing this book might have been.