Girls Burn Brighter
by Rao, Shobha






Forging a deep friendship with impoverished but passionate fellow weaver Savitha, motherless Poornima begins to reconnect with the beauty of the world before a devastating act of cruelty drives her friend away, compelling her to leave behind everything she knows to search for her friend in the darkest corners of India's underworld and beyond. A first novel.





Shobha Rao moved to the United States from India at the age of seven. She is the author of the short story collection An Unrestored Woman. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story "Kavitha and Mustafa" was chosen by T. C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She lives in San Francisco.





*Starred Review* Left motherless at the age of 16, Poornima faces the traditional year of mourning until her father plans to marry her off. An Indian village girl who knows how to cook and weave, she has little to offer potential suitors, and more than one arranged match falls through. While she waits, she develops a deep friendship with Savitha, slightly older and from an even poorer family than hers, after her father hires Savitha to help work the loom. Named after the moon and the sun, the pair spins dreams of a future where their friendship can continue even after Poornima's marriage. But when a terrible crime rips them apart, their bond will be severely tested during a journey that stretches all the way to America, as each must face the depths of depravity to which people can sink. 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. Although it is set in 2001, the obstacles each young woman faces, from cruel in-laws to sexual slavery, mutilation, and captivity, demonstrate that modern ideas of gender equality do not exist everywhere in the world. Despite everything they go through, their spirits continue to burn brightly, building to an ending that takes your breath away in its magnificence and beauty. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





Two friends and talented weavers navigate poverty, abuse, and the relentless pressure to find suitable husbands in contemporary South India.In Indravalli, a village that sits along the banks of the Krishna River, 16-year-old Poornima, which means full moon in Telugu, and 17-year-old Savitha, which means sun, cross paths when Poornima's father hires Savitha to help him meet the demand for new cotton saris. Savitha is industrious at the spinning wheel, or charkha, and weaving with Poornima is respite from searching garbage dumps for metal and plastic to sell to support her family. Mourning the recent death of her mother from cancer, Poornima finds in Savitha a mother figure, a gifted storyteller, and, as marriage looms, a confidante for her to express her fears that the man she's been arranged to marry is not what he seems. Though 12-hour days of weaving bind Poornima and Savitha together, a horrific crime tears them apart. Out in the world alone, with no knowledge of each othe r's whereabouts, they must find a way to maneuver the cruelties lobbed at women with no education and little money in both India and the United States. In this, her debut novel, Rao (An Unrestored Woman, 2016) has written an enchanting tale that alternates between Poornima's and Savitha's points of view. The book's earlier quiet and contemplative moments give way to the girls' intricately devised plans to escape their brutal circumstances, and an indefatigable courage fuels their dreams for a reunion. The resplendent prose captures the nuances and intensity of two best friends on the brink of an uncertain and precarious adulthood. "She made even the smallest of life seem grand, and for Poornima, who had always ached for something more…watching Savitha, watching her delight, was like cultivating her own." An incisive study of a friendship's unbreakable bond. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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