The Berkley Publishing Group/2015
by – Sheri de Grom
A Sister To Honor will be released January 6.
Ms. Ferris embraces the realities of daily life for Pakistani women. By page six the theme of the novel is clearly set forth in a scene between mother and daughter and the plot never allows us to forget what is happening or what is about to happen next. The plot and characters are always in motion.
On page 6 we read, [From now on, Sobia (younger sister to Afia, a primary character in the unfolding story) would need to learn how to keep her breast covered with her dupatta.She would fast this year during Ramadan. She would no longer play in her old rough ways with her cousin, Azlan. She would walk with a new firm carriage, protecting the treasure of her womanhood.] Sobia wanted her older sister, Afia, close
She needed her big sister to tell her what was happening with her body. Why couldn’t she play games with the boys any longer? Sobia was just a child herself. Was she destined to prepare for an arranged marriage from this day forward? Why did Afia have to go to America? Sobia cries in her room and wishes for her sister.
A Sister To Honor quickly moves to the story of the two main characters: Shahid Satar and his intelligent, beautiful younger sister, Afia. Both are from a small remote town in Pakistan.
Shahid escaped the confines of his life in Pakistan to become a squash star athlete at a small northeastern university and holds close to his heart, dreams of going on to Harvard. Each time he returns to his small village, it’s quickly noticed how Americanized Shahid has become. Shahid cannot admit to anyone that he can’t imagine returning to Pakistan and becoming a farmer. That is his destiny as planned by the family.
Afia is the quiet, studious and oh so beautiful sister. She’s earned a scholarship to a university near Shahid’s university. Since childhood she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor but understands the cultural obstacles blocking her desired destiny. It doesn’t matter that she wants to become a doctor to serve the women of Pakistan.
Afia’s father and other male members of the extended family finally agree she may attend university in the states and assigns Shahid the duty of defending his sister’s honor.
A Sister To Honor is more than a story about a brother and sister who leave their
homeland and learn a new culture and freedom in the United States. Lucy Ferriss paints a vivid picture of a tension-filled cultural divide between family and self.
Bleak circumstances are front and center of the story. Before page fifty, I knew Shahid had failed to protect the honor of his sister and the penalty would be severe. The circumstance is textured with the first romantic encounter of Afia’s young life. She’s on her own with emotions no one has discussed with her and that she’s never encountered. She can’t talk with Shahid and the American girls in her housing unit would laugh at her. Afia was on her own.
PG 42 [He pointed to the screen. A photo bloomed into being: a rally of some kind, and his sister, his sister, her mouth open, shouting something, and her hand holding another hand, definitely, yes, he sat clutching Coach’s wrist while the photos looped through and he could see it again, a big hand attached to a muscular arm. A man’s hand.
He slapped at the screen with the back of his hand. “What the hell is this?” he shouted. He stood up. His heart felt full and tight. “What is she doing?” He looked at Coach, who had a strange, pale look.
“Shahid, calm down, she said. “That’s Afia, right? You’re upset because–?”
“Turn it off! Turn the bloody thing off!”
She peered once more at the image as it loomed up, then closed down her browser. She stood to face him, “She’s at a rally,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong. You’ve had your picture on the Enright site. She’s not being inflammatory or anything. If you want me to talk to her . . .”
“It’s not what she’s doing Coach. It’s what she’s holding.” ]
The attention to detail propelled me further into the depths of the story. Ms. Ferriss’ subject matter knowledge is trust-worthy over and over and I entrusted her version of events as they unfolded page by page. The novel is a work of fiction but the story holds true to the lives of hundreds of thousands of woman today.
Each turn of the page took me into the hearts and minds of both Shahid and Afia. Additionally, the sub-characters have their own internal conflicts and struggles. Shahid’s female coach is a prime example. Her own personal crisis has her reckoning with the past to cope with the demands of working in a male environment. It’s a daily challenge for her to live her own life.
Within the pages of A Sister To Honor, Miss Ferriss provides the reader a smart, thought-provoking, emotional and compelling read. You won’t find easy gimmicks. You’ll read a novel with intricate relationships and characters to care about.
I recommend A SISTER TO HONOR, available January 6. You may place pre-orders now. I received an advance reading copy of A SISTER TO HONOR from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.
I previously reviewed The Lost Daughter by Lucy Ferris and you may read that review here.
I’ve been away from my blog for several weeks and I’m thrilled and honored to have read your comments when I reblogged my first Morti and I post. You’ll find Morti’s story #2 here and story #3 here. Morti #4 will arrive soon.
Tom has been ill [physical doctors want to blame everything on mental health issues although mental health has nothing to do with the demise of his current condition. I’ve gathered more information during my absence about the increasing shambles of medical care than I ever wanted to know.
I’m one of the most fortunate bloggers in the universe. You’ve been so kind and so willing to stay and wish Tom and I well. I thank you for hanging in there with me.
May your New Year deliver fulfilled dreams, unconditional love and surprise you with days when all is right within your world.