The Berkley Publishing Group/2015
by – Sheri de Grom

Book Cover - SisterA Sister To Honor by Lucy Ferriss is a novel long past due.

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

Girl, very much an adolescent preparing to assume role in arranged marriage.

Girl, very much an adolescent preparing to assume role in arranged marriage.

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

Woman - Stoned To Death

Woman – Stoned To Death

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.

Protest of Honor Killings Honor Killings Are Occurring in the U.S.

Protest of Honor Killings
Honor Killings Are Occurring in the U.S.

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.


About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like the kind of book I would like to read. Thanks for the review!

  2. Ahmed says:

    Congratulations! I have just given you the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Of course, you are under no obligation to accept it, but if you do please visit my blog to find the award and the rules for acceptance. Whatever your decision, let me thank you for being a constant inspiration to your readers! 🙂

    • Thank you, Ahmed. I no longer accept awards, however like others – my heart sings when others recognize my work and applaud it. One day I’ll respond to your gift and pass it along to others. I’m always meeting new and inspiring bloggers and love introducing them to audiences they may never have met. To me, that’s the best part of the awards process. Again, thank you for thinking of me, Ahmed.

  3. huntmode says:

    Sheri, I normally avoid book reviews. This was excellent – you gave us enough without giving us too much. I wish I had your skillset. Thank you. Best ~ HuntMode

  4. This would be a bit of a change up in reading for me, but your review made me curious enough. I would add it to my list for sure.

    • What is the genre you usually read? I bounce around between many genres and different non-fiction. It drives Tom a little crazy as I usually read 3 or 4 books at the same time. Heaven forbid I should ever be somewhere and not have a book with me or at a minimum a couple magazines.

      • I love Irish history fiction, biographies, autobiographies, historical novels (some not all), I’m actually finding young adult novels are becoming very interesting, but I don’t know why. “Current” story lines don’t usually grab my interest. I seem to be drawn to older stories and settings. I loved the “Upstairs Downstairs” series, which surprised me. I’m finding all kinds of little gems that don’t really keep me one genre or another.

        • I always love to know what others are reading. I stumbled into reading historical novels by sheer accident when I was asked to write a review by a publisher I respected and told them I’d give it a shot. I don’t go back much further than 1850 unless it’s my own family research.

          • I stumbled across them as well while looking into history about Ireland. Love some of the historical novels based on that piece of heaven on earth. I may be biased. But I love it when I can read a great story and learn a little about history and a different way for people to have lived.

  5. willowdot21 says:

    Hi Sheri thank you for reviewing this book it sounds really interesting! I am sorry that Tom is unwell I truly hope that he is on the mend now. I wish you both a healthy 2015! xx

  6. Sheri this is a great review – you definitely make me want to read the book with your insights. Sending my best wishes to you and Tom, hoping he’s feeling better.

    • Andrea – I’m beginning to think WP ate some of my replies or I’ve lost my mind (again). The novel my Lucy Ferriss is definitely a thinking woman’s read. It’s a read not to be missed in 2015 in my opinion. I believe it’s one of those novels that comes along once in a great while to remind us of all the reasons why we must be aware of all the people who walk the earth and the great injustice they face daily.

  7. ksbeth says:

    this sounds like a wonderful book. while some of the issues are hugely challenging and lethal, in some cases, they do need to be addressed and talked about. the more attention that can be brought into the public eye, the better. thank you for sharing your reveiw, sheri and i’m sorry that you’re struggling so much right now, not just with tom’s illness, but with the entire system. hugs ) beth

    • Beth – I was sure I had responded to your message but here I am and I don’t see one – shame on me. I don’t review as many books as I used to although I read more than ever. I felt ‘A Sister To Honor’ could not be overlooked. It’s a powerful read and not always pleasant but Ms. Ferriss research is impeccable. I love reading an author and I know she’s done her research and I don’t have to do fact checking before I can recommend a read. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I always appreciate hearing from you and your take on things.

      • ksbeth says:

        no worries, sheri. i never hold anyone to a timeline, as far as reading and responses. we all have things that keep us busy in our lives, and sometimes it is all we can do to keep afloat.

  8. Happy New Year, Sheri. This is a wonderful review. I want to read this writer now. I tend to seek out books about women in other countries. We’ve had honor killings here in my country by people who have immigrated here. The law is the law, thank goodness, but too late.

    • Tess – A Sister To Honor is a walk in another woman’s shoes but the richness comes when we see how her entire family struggles with the realization that their entire world will never be the same again. The novel takes place in both Palestine and the United States. Lucy Ferriss is my kind of writer in that she did her research and it’s top notch. I didn’t have to do fact checking or worry about background issues. I consider the read a thinking woman’s entitlement.

  9. After reading this and scanning the comments I am with you on what you wrote, “It would be nice to have an understanding of cultures and a complete stop of the honor killings.” Sounds like a powerful and important read. A prayer I extend out to the ethers is for abuse, torture, and killings to stop. But then I’m a dreamer. Thank you, Sheri.

    • Paulette – I totally dropped the ball on thanking you for reading and commenting on my post. You know, it never hurts to dream because we do get to turn some of those dreams into reality. I only have to look at my little rescue and know she dreamed of a loving home and I found her. I dreamed of a quiet little shih tzu to love that was older and needed a good and quiet home and here she is. To some, the dream of a dog is not such a big deal but to you and to me, those dreams of all God’s creatures having love is the most important dream of all and that includes all innocent women on the face of this earth.

  10. God Bless America (not withstanding the honor killings we have here–at least they aren’t legal)–there but for the grace of God go any of us women. I am glad she’s speaking out.

  11. Hi Sheri! Wonderful to see you back here in 2015 with a great post! The book sounds phenomenal and well worth reading. To be able to understand another’s culture is indeed highly valuable in today’s world. Thank you for telling us about it.
    When you said: “May your New Year … surprise you with days when all is right within your world”, I marvel that with everything you and Tom have and are going through, that you still have a positive outlook that never seems to waver.
    I’m sorry to hear that Tom is experiencing physical problems and I so wish you both weren’t having to go through this again and again. I won’t say “chin up” because I know you’re already doing that. But know that I think of you two often and wish you a better 2015 than you can imagine.

  12. Aquileana says:

    Great overview… I love this kind of reading as they open our eyes to new cultures which is always a good way to learn and break down stereotypes. Congratulations on the book, Sheri.
    Aquileana 😀

  13. This reminds me of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell – the life of a rural Pakistani family is never easy and even harder for the girls. I will be putting A Sister to Honor on my 2015 reading list. Excellent review, Sheri.

  14. Jane Sadek says:

    Hi Sheri – always nice to see you in my reader. Hope the coming year is full of joyous moments for you and Tom, in spite of his ongoing condition.

    • Hello Jane – Are you ready for a cruise or busy decorating. I’m delighted I still made it into your reader. I’ll be making my way over to your ‘house’ sometime today or tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Jane Sadek says:

        The big trip this year will be to Michigan – a family visit with Mackinaw Island and the Grand Hotel as a side trip. It looks like I’ll visit San Antonio for my birthday and a girl’s trip to Idaho just might materialize. However, the journey to Heath will be the big thing in 2015.

        • I’ve been dreaming over the catalogs that continue to pour in for the longship cruises. I think it would be the easy way if/when Tom ever feels up to travel. I so hope he does as I miss traveling. I’d also love a return trip to Monterey/Carmel and that could be a totally lazy trip for Tom. I know he’d want to do things but we could set it up wherein many activities could center around LaPlaya Hotel and Clint’s place at Mission Ranch. His two favorite places in Carmel.

  15. gpcox says:

    Perhaps more understanding between cultures will come from this book?

  16. Gallivanta says:

    I love those surprise days! I wish you and Tom all the best. I am glad you are having time to read and write and produce stories and a review for us to enjoy.

  17. Congratulations on your book. Look forward to reading it. Wish Tom improved physical health. May you both have a Happy 2015.

  18. mihrank says:

    Sherie – I know her publications very well – Indeed she was able to create a great controversy to gain a great rating for her publications. My aunt is a professor in University of Chicago shared her critique.

    I enjoyed reading her books and your post!

  19. I continue to keep you and Tom in my thoughts. I have had over a year, almost two, of botched medical care. It’s absolutely criminal in the care I have received. I could write a book. It’s galling what doctors are getting away with and with no accountability at all. I’m sick of not being able to be the sick patient. I’m doing his job and mine.

  20. Terry says:

    I think I am confused . You didn’t write this, you read it ?

  21. Terry says:

    Congratulations on your new book

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