One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi is an emotional coming of age children’s novel. The protagonist Obayda’s family has issues. Her father has lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing their family to move away from their home to a small village in Kabul. Her father almost never leaves his room. One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck. She dresses Obayda as a boy, a bacha posh. Now she is Obayd. Soon, she meets another bacha posh, and it changes everything. They’re free to explore the village on their own without any restrictions. However, their transformation won’t last forever, and they must figure out a way to make their freedom last.
The author’s writing style is emotional and the reader can feel the joys, pain, sadness, and happiness of Obayda and her family. The pacing of the novel is quick with many twists and turns down the way. Obayda is a flawed character and many readers will relate to her. The book essentially details her journey of learning more about herself and life in general.
The story is enlightening and captivating and it questions gender stereotypes, gender norms, male dominance, and double standards. It questions the meaning of gender and what it means to be a boy or a girl in a specific society. The reader learns about the village, the culture, and the languages. It is a beautiful novel with an inspiring message: boys and girls are equal and should not be confined to gender roles and stereotypes. Children should be allowed embrace themselves without double standards. An informative book that is well worth the read.
Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.