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Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communi Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.  Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge.


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Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communi Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.  Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge.

30 review for Sparks Like Stars

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    ‘my soul is from elsewhere and i intend to end up there.’ oh my goodness. the writing in this is ✨ s t u n n i n g ✨ i dont annotate my books but, if i did, this would be covered in highlights. so many wonderful sentences. this story is on the slower side of things, but the narration and complex characters make up for it. for me, personally, i find thats exactly what i need in historical fiction. i prefer stories that focus on the people and emotion, rather than a factual basis. this may be first ‘my soul is from elsewhere and i intend to end up there.’ oh my goodness. the writing in this is ✨ s t u n n i n g ✨ i dont annotate my books but, if i did, this would be covered in highlights. so many wonderful sentences. this story is on the slower side of things, but the narration and complex characters make up for it. for me, personally, i find thats exactly what i need in historical fiction. i prefer stories that focus on the people and emotion, rather than a factual basis. this may be first book by NH, but it definitely wont be my last. i honestly cant get enough of her writing. ↠ 4.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    Book clubs, this book is for you. In the many discussions we've had in living rooms, libraries, zoom rooms, we've talked about Afghanistan before and after the Soviet invasion of '79. We've circled the question that ultimately inspired this book - what tipped Afghanistan into decades of conflict? As it turns out, it was a dark and intriguing moment in April of 1978. This is the story of that moment, of that time in Afghanistan's history and the deep reach of the Cold War. I've posted some of my Book clubs, this book is for you. In the many discussions we've had in living rooms, libraries, zoom rooms, we've talked about Afghanistan before and after the Soviet invasion of '79. We've circled the question that ultimately inspired this book - what tipped Afghanistan into decades of conflict? As it turns out, it was a dark and intriguing moment in April of 1978. This is the story of that moment, of that time in Afghanistan's history and the deep reach of the Cold War. I've posted some of my research links for this book (and my others) on Pinterest. I've admired old maps of the stars, dug through redacted CIA documents, and spent an unjustifiable number of hours staring at pictures of free-spirited hippies than I should have. I can't wait for Sitara to tell you her story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.5 Afghani Stars The first half of this book is set in Afghanistan, a country I’ve been fascinated with since I started reading M.M. Kaye books in high school. I’m holding out hope that someday things will be peaceful enough for me to visit. One of the interesting things I was reminded of with this book is that you call the people Afghans and food is Afghani. Sitara is a young girl of ten in 1978’s Kabul. Her father is a high ranking official, working for President Daoud and Sitara’s family freq 4.5 Afghani Stars The first half of this book is set in Afghanistan, a country I’ve been fascinated with since I started reading M.M. Kaye books in high school. I’m holding out hope that someday things will be peaceful enough for me to visit. One of the interesting things I was reminded of with this book is that you call the people Afghans and food is Afghani. Sitara is a young girl of ten in 1978’s Kabul. Her father is a high ranking official, working for President Daoud and Sitara’s family frequently stayed at the Palace, or Arg. Sitara often plays hide and seek in the palace and gardens with the President’s children and she loves the library! One night the fairytale ends when there is a coup, and the palace soldiers and military turn on the President and his family. Miraculously Sitara survives and is smuggled out and eventually lands with two women who get her out of the dangerous country. The second half of the book starts with the adult life of Sitara, now using a different name, and her career as an oncologist in New York. She’s never fully grieved her family or gotten over the violence of that night in Kabul. She keeps her barriers up and very few people know the story of her early life. She grapples with anger at the guard who smuggled her out and she’s never understood his motivation. Sitara decides that she needs to visit Kabul again to try and find out the truth and bring some closure to this early trauma in her life. This is a slower read but I really like this author’s style and storytelling. She’s got a few I haven’t read, so hopefully I can get to those soon. Thank you to Book Club Girls/William Morrow for a copy of this one to read and review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    ‘Her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky. I am that girl, and this is my story’. Though I enjoyed this overall, I did find it to be slower going than previous novels. I don’t feel like this story had the depth that her others have had. One of the reasons for this is that unlike in ‘Her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky. I am that girl, and this is my story’. Though I enjoyed this overall, I did find it to be slower going than previous novels. I don’t feel like this story had the depth that her others have had. One of the reasons for this is that unlike in Hashimi’s previous novels Afghanistan is not her own character... she took a backseat. There were only glimpses of her. Hashimi is incredibly talented and the passion she has for Afghanistan and her people is what I’ve grown to love most about her writing. I just don’t think it was showcased as well in this. Still I will never pass up a chance to read her novels. 3.5 stars. Favorite quotes: ‘Let people serve you information, but never let them serve you your opinion.’ ‘My father had taught me to recognize and see through propaganda, to be suspicious of every statement that did not allow room for debate or question.’ ‘If faith was a life raft, mine was riddled with holes.’ ‘You must take a step, before you ask God to bless your journey.’ ‘Grief is nothing but the far brink of love. Love is the sun, grief is the shadow it casts. Love is an opera, grief is its echo. You cannot have one without the other.’ *I feel like the last several pre-pub novels I’ve read have been somewhat disappointing. I’m realizing that authors, just like the rest of us, are living through difficult times. Their deadlines probably have not been put on hold because of it. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to separate their worlds. So, I’ve decided to give grace to these artists and not judge too harshly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Sitara Zamani was 10 years old in 1978 when her parents and younger brother were killed during a coup in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers, Shair, managed to hide her and take her to an American diplomat. The diplomat helped her to escape to America and raised Sitara (now using the assumed name Aryana) as her mother. In 2008, Aryana is a surgeon in NYC. When Shair became Aryana’s patient it reawakened decades of resentment against him for not saving the rest of her family. She became determined t Sitara Zamani was 10 years old in 1978 when her parents and younger brother were killed during a coup in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers, Shair, managed to hide her and take her to an American diplomat. The diplomat helped her to escape to America and raised Sitara (now using the assumed name Aryana) as her mother. In 2008, Aryana is a surgeon in NYC. When Shair became Aryana’s patient it reawakened decades of resentment against him for not saving the rest of her family. She became determined to return to Afghanistan to find their bodies. I think that this is the first book I have read about Afghanistan. In the US, pretty much everything we read in the news about Afghanistan is bad, so the most interesting parts of the book to me were those set in pre-coup Afghanistan and 2008 Afghanistan. It was definitely a different picture of the country. I thought that the part of the book set in the United States went on too long. Before her adoption, Aryana spent a very brief period in an abusive foster home. That interlude was completely irrelevant to the rest of the story and should have been omitted. I also wanted to skip over all of the details of Aryana’s medical practice. The author is a doctor so I’m sure that interested her, but I definitely did not want to hear about it. I listened to the audiobook and the narration was very good. However, if I had been reading the book in another format I probably would have skimmed over much of what happened in America. 3.5 stars I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    It’s 1978 in Afghanistan. Young Sitara’s beloved father is an advisor to President Daoud Khan and her family were frequent visitors to the palace. The President’s grandchildren were close friends with Sitara and her younger brother. The palace was their playground. One day in April, the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan stages an attack against the President. Sitara manages to survive the coup after watching in horror as her family is murdered. Shair, one of the guards who t It’s 1978 in Afghanistan. Young Sitara’s beloved father is an advisor to President Daoud Khan and her family were frequent visitors to the palace. The President’s grandchildren were close friends with Sitara and her younger brother. The palace was their playground. One day in April, the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan stages an attack against the President. Sitara manages to survive the coup after watching in horror as her family is murdered. Shair, one of the guards who turned on the President, helps Sitara escape the palace and places her with two American women. The story shifts to 2008, New York City. Sitara, who now uses the name Aryana, is an oncologist. While now a caring healer, she has never been able to fully heal from the trauma she experienced in her home country. A chance meeting with Shair, who is seeking medical help, brings up all her feelings about her loss, which she has hidden from most who know her. Was Shair the one who murdered her family? Why did he help save her? And where was her family buried? Her anger is reignited and she seeks answers in Kabul. Sparks Like Stars by author Nadia Hashimi tells the complex story of Afghanistan’s history over the past few decades through the eyes of Sitara/Aryana. Her loss is tragic yet she is a strong woman who uses her memories of her family to guide her. The setting is not a part of the world I normally read about in novels making this book extremely interesting and all the more impactful. It was a slower than normal read because there were so many passages that I re-read for the beauty of the writing. I hope you will take the time and read this book. Many thanks to William Morrow / HarperCollins and the Book Club Girl Early Reads program for the opportunity to read this emotional book in advance of its publication. Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    Sparks Like Stars is the second book I have read by this author. If you are a fan of the historical fiction genre, I highly recommend checking her books out. The plot of this one keeps your eyes glued to the pages and despite the fact it runs over 450 pages in length, it doesn't feel like a long read. The only issue I had with the story is I missed out on having an emotional connection to the main character. In 1978, ten year old Sitara is living in Kabul with her family. Her father is the right Sparks Like Stars is the second book I have read by this author. If you are a fan of the historical fiction genre, I highly recommend checking her books out. The plot of this one keeps your eyes glued to the pages and despite the fact it runs over 450 pages in length, it doesn't feel like a long read. The only issue I had with the story is I missed out on having an emotional connection to the main character. In 1978, ten year old Sitara is living in Kabul with her family. Her father is the right hand man for Afghanistan president, Sardar Daoud. Sitara's life changes in the blink of an eye when the president and her family are assassinated after communists stage a coup. She is smuggled out of the palace by a guard and ends up living with a female American diplomat. In order to leave Afghanistan, Sitara takes on a new identity, Aryana Shepherd. She eventually winds up in the United States. Fast forward 30 years and Aryana is living in New York and is a doctor. She believes now is the time to seek out answers about her past. This historical fiction read is a combination of fact and fiction. The story is so rich in cultural info about Afghanistan which make it a valuable read. So even though some characters and situations are products of the author's creativity, the story is worth reading especially if are interested in learning about what what going on in that country in the late 1970s as well as in 2008. There is so much tragedy in Sitara's life and that's why I find it so odd I didn't feel invested in her on an emotional level. I was fascinated with her life and admired her strength and courage but I also felt detached from her. Maybe the best way to explain it is at some point in the story I should have shed a tear when she was hurting but that wasn't the case. I do think I'm in the minority when it comes to that opinion judging by some of the other reviews. I will continue to seek out more books by Nadia Hashimi as I love what she is bringing to the historical fiction genre. I received a free copy of this book as part of #WMTastemakers. All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi is an impactful and complex story. The first part of the story takes place in Afghanistan and this is the first book I’ve ever read set in Afghanistan. I was fascinated by their culture with both the good and bad described. Daily life is described as well as unrest. The second part of the story takes place after Sitara moves to the US and changes her name to Aryana. There is so much going on in Sparks Like Stars but Hashimi tells it in a way that is easy to kee Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi is an impactful and complex story. The first part of the story takes place in Afghanistan and this is the first book I’ve ever read set in Afghanistan. I was fascinated by their culture with both the good and bad described. Daily life is described as well as unrest. The second part of the story takes place after Sitara moves to the US and changes her name to Aryana. There is so much going on in Sparks Like Stars but Hashimi tells it in a way that is easy to keep up with. I had so many feels while reading Sparks Like Stars and felt all of Sitara/Aryana’s emotions. Family is one of the themes in Sparks Like Stars. Sitara has the family she was born with and Aryana has the family she chose. It is interesting to see how she reacts to both and how her family affects her decisions. The main character is a strong, independent woman that never gives up. She fights for answers and tries to help others. Sparks Like Stars is a must read for anyone that likes learning about other cutlures and reading about strong women. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Mozhan Marno and thought she did an excellent job. Marno was the perfect voice for Sitara. She used her voice to emphasize emotions. Thank you Harper Audio, William Morrow and NetGalley for Sparks Like Stars. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  9. 5 out of 5

    fanna

    September 23, 2020: I have a feeling I'm going to love this book, especially since I get all excited for South Asian (yes, Afghanistan can be considered a part of SA, take your geography class) stories! September 23, 2020: I have a feeling I'm going to love this book, especially since I get all excited for South Asian (yes, Afghanistan can be considered a part of SA, take your geography class) stories!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    Love of country and family are torn apart by tragedy as we get a glimpse into a woman’s life burdened with the past. Loved being so drawn in - always so incredible when it is written by Nadia Hashimi. “Untold histories live in shallow graves” and in Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi, life’s secret traumas hidden below the surface haunt Satira. As a young Afghan girl, Sitara loses everything and everyone in her beloved country; she was the sole survivor in a government coup where all her close f Love of country and family are torn apart by tragedy as we get a glimpse into a woman’s life burdened with the past. Loved being so drawn in - always so incredible when it is written by Nadia Hashimi. “Untold histories live in shallow graves” and in Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi, life’s secret traumas hidden below the surface haunt Satira. As a young Afghan girl, Sitara loses everything and everyone in her beloved country; she was the sole survivor in a government coup where all her close friends and family were murdered. With the unexpected help of a soldier assigned to kill her, she was whisked off to a safe place. Antonia (Nia), an embassy worker, and her mother, Tilly, take Satira in to their home and help her escape the country. Satira starts anew in the United States, becomes a successful doctor and is in a flat romantic relationship. She chooses not to share stories from her childhood with anyone which has created barriers and limitations to her ultimate happiness and trust. When someone from her past shows up in her life, old wounds open and Satira feels a burning desire to face her past, get closure on the murder of her family and to travel back home to see for herself the destruction of her Afghanistan. A moving story about a beautiful culture forever changed by government and war, Nadia Hashimi gives us another wonderful dose of history with a vivid backdrop and deeply emotional characters. Sparks Like Stars had me from page one and all the special touches mined from Hashimi’s family’s culture, her experience with politics and her life as a physician enrich an already incredible story of Satira’s personal journey. I an a huge fan of Hashimi’s work and I loved this one! Visit Book Nation by Jen for incredible author Q & A!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    4.5 strong stars! Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi read like a memoir but was actually a fine example of historical fiction. This book was beautifully written and captured the essence of Afghanistan before the Communist coup and after. Nadia Hashimi made it easy to picture the streets, people, shops, soldiers, gardens, and the life that occurred within the walls of the castle prior to the coup that was staged by the communists. Sparks Like Stars was very well researched. It was told in a dual 4.5 strong stars! Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi read like a memoir but was actually a fine example of historical fiction. This book was beautifully written and captured the essence of Afghanistan before the Communist coup and after. Nadia Hashimi made it easy to picture the streets, people, shops, soldiers, gardens, and the life that occurred within the walls of the castle prior to the coup that was staged by the communists. Sparks Like Stars was very well researched. It was told in a dual time line. The story gripped my attention from the very beginning and held it until the very end. I listened to Sparks Like Stars on audiobook. It was brilliantly narrated by Mozhan Marno. Her voice was rich and captivating. I found it hard to turn the audiobook off. I was so engrossed in Sitara’s heart wrenching story. It ran for a little over thirteen hours. I listened to Sparks like Stars over the course of two days. The first part of Sparks Like Stars took place in Kabul in 1978. Sitara Zalmani was a ten year old smart and curious young girl who was living a privileged life. Her father was one of the prominent advisors to Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president. Sitara lived with her mother, father and little brother. Her family spent a lot of time at the castle because of Sitara’s father’s position. Life for Sitara and her family was good. All that changed in the course of one night. The communists staged a coup and multiple assignations occurred. The President was killed as were the members of Sitara’s family. Sitara was the only survivor from the brutal massacre. Shair, one of the castle guards, smuggled Sitara out of the castle. He was able to find refuge for Sitara with an American diplomat. Sitara witnessed the assignation of her family. She believed that Shair helped to kill her family. Her family was always kind to him. How could he have done this? Sitara was angry, sad, confused and scared. The American diplomat, Antonia and her mother, took her in and patiently waited for Sitara to learn to trust them, Antonia and her mother were able to get Sitara out of Kabul to America. Sitara took the name of her older sister who had been born in America but died before Sitara was born. Sitara became Aryana Shepherd. After a nightmarish start in the foster care system, Sitara now Aryana was finally adopted by Antonia. Aryana learned to love and care deeply for Antonia. She even came to call Antonia mom. Sparks Like Stars jumped ahead forty years to the year 2018. Aryana, now an accomplished surgeon, lived in Queens and worked in a hospital in New York City. Her patients had cancer. One day a much older version of the guard that saved her all those years ago, showed up in her clinic. Aryana still believed that Shair could have played a part in killing her family. When Aryana recognized Shair all the old bottled up feelings from long ago surfaced. Aryana was determined to get Shair to admit to his part in killing her family. She needed Shair to tell her where her family was buried so she could finally give them the burial they deserved. Aryana’s desire for answers was awakened. She decided to finally go back to Kabul to get her answers. Aryana was accompanied by Antonia and a photo journalist she had met at a book signing. Will she get closure? Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi was heart breaking, full of tragedy, and hopeful at the same time. The themes of survival, strength, healing, hardships, loss, anger, resentment, and resilience were evident throughout this book. Sitara became a brave, intelligent and resilient young woman who kept her memories of that fateful night hidden from most but always in her most private thoughts. Sparks Like Stars was a magnificent book. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Harper Audio for allowing me to listen to the advanced copy of this audiobook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sparks Like Stars was absolutely a breathtaking book to dive into. In it, you will meet Sitara. Who eventually goes by the name Aryana. After a rather sudden and unexpected tragedy, she is leaving Afghanistan and heading to America. From there, she grows up and eventually becomes a successful surgeon. Yet, there's still something that she really wants to know and understand - the reason why her family died. Aryana was such a I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sparks Like Stars was absolutely a breathtaking book to dive into. In it, you will meet Sitara. Who eventually goes by the name Aryana. After a rather sudden and unexpected tragedy, she is leaving Afghanistan and heading to America. From there, she grows up and eventually becomes a successful surgeon. Yet, there's still something that she really wants to know and understand - the reason why her family died. Aryana was such an interesting character to follow. I was honestly impressed with how awesome and fierce she was throughout the book. It was just so easy to be in awe of her and to see her grow during this journey of discovering the truth. She goes through so much in this book that I can't even image or dream of. Which is probably why I devoured it so quickly. Long story short, I was completely hooked from start to finish. The world building and the characters were just amazing that it was way too easy for me to fall in love with the actual story. If you ever decide to dive into this book, I would highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator was so freaking good. Definitely recommendable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book, but I can tell you one thing I learned coming out of it: You must have tissues handy at all times while you are reading it. Sparks Like Stars chronicles the life of Sitara Zimani, a ten year old girl who witnesses the murder of her family in Afghanistan during the assassination of the president and his family. Her father had been the president’s right hand man. The story takes the reader through her baffling and terrifying rescue, journ I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book, but I can tell you one thing I learned coming out of it: You must have tissues handy at all times while you are reading it. Sparks Like Stars chronicles the life of Sitara Zimani, a ten year old girl who witnesses the murder of her family in Afghanistan during the assassination of the president and his family. Her father had been the president’s right hand man. The story takes the reader through her baffling and terrifying rescue, journey to the United States, and growth into adulthood, living now as Aryana Shepherd, a surgeon in NYC who unexpectedly encounters the soldier who saved her so many years before. This fascinating story is filled with historical detail, breathtaking prose, and morsels of wisdom. I enjoyed it far more than I’d expected to. I try not to request ARCs impulsively, but it seems I had an impetuous moment when I asked for this particular book. The synopsis certainly sounded intriguing, but I wasn’t sure this was the type of story that would hold my interest. I did not need to worry. I was deeply invested in Sitara’s saga all the way through. As I’ve already warned, this is a tearjerker. I was crying by the time I hit the 11% mark in the audiobook and teared up many times after that. Sparks Like Stars takes the reader into the heart of the main character’s grief and trauma, demonstrating the effect of them as she grows into a woman who still desperately needs closure. How many of us can relate to that? Although it’s a story beyond anything I can fathom experiencing, I felt great empathy for Sitara/Aryana and hoped for a good outcome at the end of her tragic tale. I am so glad that I did request this on a whim! Had I put too much thought into what best suited my tastes, I would have missed out on a magnificent story. Sparks Like Stars is a wonderful “own voices” narrative that taught me a lot and deeply touched my heart. I’d like to read more by Nadia Hashimi in the future. I am immensely grateful to William Morrow and NetGalley for my audio review copy. All opinions are my own. Sparks Like Stars is available preorder and will be published on March 2, 2021.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristin- Shabby Chic Reader

    I loved everything about this book! It was full of emotion, adventure, and finding closure for loss of family. This story was well written. It reads like a memoir but is a fictional story. You ache with the characters during their journey through life and the hardships they endure. The author included a wonderful description of life in Kabul before and after the takeover and the history of the country. She also delves into dealing with PTSD and survivor guilt. I would recommend this book to love I loved everything about this book! It was full of emotion, adventure, and finding closure for loss of family. This story was well written. It reads like a memoir but is a fictional story. You ache with the characters during their journey through life and the hardships they endure. The author included a wonderful description of life in Kabul before and after the takeover and the history of the country. She also delves into dealing with PTSD and survivor guilt. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and women's fiction! Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I loved this book. I was nearing the end when I realized it was playing across my mind like a very well crafted movie. I loved the story, I loved the relationships, I loved the history, and I loved landscape created with words. I want to visit Afghanistan and see the beauty that is described by Sitara. I want to study the history and understand what part Cold War played in the recent history. The short snippets of explanations were barely enough to digest and left me hungry for more. I did not k I loved this book. I was nearing the end when I realized it was playing across my mind like a very well crafted movie. I loved the story, I loved the relationships, I loved the history, and I loved landscape created with words. I want to visit Afghanistan and see the beauty that is described by Sitara. I want to study the history and understand what part Cold War played in the recent history. The short snippets of explanations were barely enough to digest and left me hungry for more. I did not know that the end of WWII is what defines First World, Second World, and Third World countries. Nor did I understand the part the Cold War played in the rise of the Taliban. There were many passages I highlighted and loved, but the explanation of grief is the one that lit up my soul in truth: “You miss them, she said. That’s grief, and grief is nothing but the far brink of love. Love is the sun, grief is the shadow it casts. Love is an opera, grief is its echo. You cannot have one without the other. But if you follow that grief, you’ll find your way back to love. You haven’t let yourself do that yet, and you need to—in your own way. So cry, scream, run, sleep, pray, or write love notes in the sand. But grieve, so you can get back to love, because love is a better place to be.” “I have not allowed them to be part of me, failing to understand that their light can be my Dawn - that a good day begins with a good mourning.” Such a worthwhile read! Thanks to Edelweiss for this digital advanced copy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peachy

    "The wound is the place where the light gets in." Rumi (as quoted in Sparks Like Stars) Some books cause you to read and reread a phrase because the words are confusing, others because you feel as though you simply must have missed the point, but the most engaging and poetic of tales - stories such as Sparks Like Stars - provide such deliciously rich prose that they tempt you to repeat the lines over again and over again, just so you can savour every layer of the tapestry of flavours. 'On that nig "The wound is the place where the light gets in." Rumi (as quoted in Sparks Like Stars) Some books cause you to read and reread a phrase because the words are confusing, others because you feel as though you simply must have missed the point, but the most engaging and poetic of tales - stories such as Sparks Like Stars - provide such deliciously rich prose that they tempt you to repeat the lines over again and over again, just so you can savour every layer of the tapestry of flavours. 'On that night, giants were felled. A dizzying void swallowed all that had once been. But the trembling little girl could not succumb. She would be brave because her father had once told her that the world lived within her. That her bones were made of mountains. That rivers coursed through her veins. That her heartbeat was the sound of a thousand pounding hooves. That her eyes glittered with the light of a starry sky.' Tragedy and trauma reign for the first half of this impassioned novel, where we witness Sitara (Star), our bright and determined young hero as she refuses to let her ruinous circumstances darken the intensity of her brilliance. She bravely persists on towards a new life in a foreign land, only to have her past befall her decades later. 'There are people in this world who return to watery graveyards ‐- weary doctors, shell-shocked journalists, children of war. These are the people willing to cross hell's gates to prove life and loss are intertwined currents, capsizing some ships and righting others.' And thus, the second half of the story finds our survivor - and now, oncology surgeon - seek the truth about her treacherous past that she can no longer stifle by virtue of a laborous and frenetic existence. Reconciliation can sometimes be forged in the narrative of our memories, but what becomes of us when a window of truth lets in the light that we were historically unwilling to see? The only thing left to battle is our vulnerability. 'What if I forgive myself and nothing changes?' 'But untold histories live in shallow graves. Some nights, the cold wakes me and I find I've clawed my way out from under the covers. I count the stars to catch my breath.' I wholly enjoyed this slowly moving, lyrical sojurn through loss, family and love, that Nadia Hashimi has so skillfully shared. Given that this was my first of her offerings, I will eagerly work my way through all that she has written, and would highly recommend Sparks Like Stars if you haven't had the good fortune to pick it up yet.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kaitie Leary

    This book truly took me on an emotional journey. It is no exaggeration to say that it broke my heart and stitched it back together. I cannot wait for more people to have the privilege of discovering this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    This book was beautiful. It may just be my favorite book of the month. This will definitely stay with me for a while. Thank you so much NetGalley & Harper Audio for my advanced copy. What I Loved- ✨ How Epic This Story Felt- it spans decades and continents. We follow Sitira from the time she is a young girl in Afghanistan and follow her across the ocean and into adulthood in America where she is a doctor. I would love to see this book translated to film. ✨ Sitira - I loved Sitira as a character. S This book was beautiful. It may just be my favorite book of the month. This will definitely stay with me for a while. Thank you so much NetGalley & Harper Audio for my advanced copy. What I Loved- ✨ How Epic This Story Felt- it spans decades and continents. We follow Sitira from the time she is a young girl in Afghanistan and follow her across the ocean and into adulthood in America where she is a doctor. I would love to see this book translated to film. ✨ Sitira - I loved Sitira as a character. She was so real to me! As I was reading / listening to this book I had to constantly remind myself that she was a fictional character. Her and I have nothing in common but I found her relatable. I identified with her need/want for answers and her love for her family. Present and past. ✨ The Emotions- I felt so many things while reading this book. It was heartbreaking at times and very hopeful at others. I so wanted Sitira to get the ending I thought she deserved. ✨ The Audio- The narrator was amazing! Mozhan Marno also narrated The Stationary Shop which I absolutely loved! ( highly recommend that book as well ) Sparks Like Stars is making me want to go and do my own research of Afghanistan and it’s history. Overall- highly recommend. Please read this book. I can’t wait to read more by this author

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    This was a heavy read. Just heartbreak over and over. The beginning was bit hard for me to connect with the protagonist because so much was happening so fast. I didn’t feel her emotions as much as I was yearning to. Reading a child going through so much trauma was just really difficult. One thing after another without any breaks. It left me hopeless and numb. I had to take breaks in reading. Suddenly, the story jumps to 30 or so years later. The protagonist is an accomplished adult, but she is s This was a heavy read. Just heartbreak over and over. The beginning was bit hard for me to connect with the protagonist because so much was happening so fast. I didn’t feel her emotions as much as I was yearning to. Reading a child going through so much trauma was just really difficult. One thing after another without any breaks. It left me hopeless and numb. I had to take breaks in reading. Suddenly, the story jumps to 30 or so years later. The protagonist is an accomplished adult, but she is still experiencing trauma and ptsd time and time again. There is so much loss, resilience, and strength in this woman, and thankfully some healing. It is very emotional and and tragic. It almost feels like a memoir. Lots of politics and action in the first half. Overall, I enjoyed the book and the journey it took me on. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest opinion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pavitra (For The Love of Fictional Worlds)

    Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds Disclaimer: An eARC was provided via Harper Collins International and a Phsyical Copy was provided via Harper Collins Indiain exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own. If you haven’t still read Nadia Hashimi’s books then you have no idea the emotional roller coaster you are missing out on. I found Nadia Hashimi with The Sky at Our FeetThe Sky At Our Feet (Read My Review) at Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds Disclaimer: An eARC was provided via Harper Collins International and a Phsyical Copy was provided via Harper Collins Indiain exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own. If you haven’t still read Nadia Hashimi’s books then you have no idea the emotional roller coaster you are missing out on. I found Nadia Hashimi with The Sky at Our FeetThe Sky At Our Feet (Read My Review) at the start of my blogging journey; and till date, her voice and her narration makes that beautiful heartbreaking book to be one of my all time favourites as well as a definite recommendation, especially if I want new readers to be introduced to a new voice that they *Need* to read. So, Sparks Like Stars was already gel with high expectations - and like before, Ms. Hashimi doesn’t disappoint with the heartbreakingly hopeful story that she tells to her readers in the background of the start of the coup in Afghanistan. Told in the PoV of Sitara, in the year 1978; where she lives a carefree life with her parents and her brother. Her father, is a close adviser to the then President of Afghanistan and she has grown up with her best friends; the grandchildren of the President at the palace. What she doesn’t know, what she never ever expects, is that her life, as she knows it, is going to end soon. She and her family have the misfortune of being at the palace, when the rebel forces successfully undertake a murderous coup against the President. Sitara sees her family murdered in front of her eyes by a guard whom her family trusted. And in a cruel twist of fate, the same guard, in a rare show of consciousness, saves her and gets her out of the palace undetected. Risking his own life, and that of his family’s; he protects her until he hands her off to two American women to try and get her out of there country. Fast forward to 2008, Sitara is now a successful oncology surgeon and lives a somewhat content life in the US. Until she meets face to face with the one man whom she blames for her own tragic past. She now knows that she cannot rest until she knows exactly what happened to her family back in 1978. Told in parts; as readers we find ourselves engrossed in Sitara’s innocent voice in 1978 - the harrowing journey she undergoes, just to survive after a tragedy that she can never get over. The strength of the young girl shines through; on every single page. And while the transition to her life in the US is a bit abrupt; it’s the author’s talent of using the backdrop of a country in turmoil and the political crisis within Afghanistan to seamlessly showcase the tragic events in the life that leaves a devastating impact on the reader, one that they won’t forget anytime soon. For more reviews visit For The Love of Fictional Worlds :) Do come join us at For The Fictional Worlds Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram  | Goodreads  | Amazon |

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christi Flaker

    This story begins in Afghanistan in the year 1978. We meet our main character Sitara (10 years old) whose father is a close advisor to the President. Her best friends are the president's grandchildren. Due to these connections Sitara and her family happen to be in the palace on the day of a murderous coup. A guard, who turned on the president, for some reason, decides to take pity on Sitara and rescues her from the palace after she witnesses the murder of her family. After risking his and his fa This story begins in Afghanistan in the year 1978. We meet our main character Sitara (10 years old) whose father is a close advisor to the President. Her best friends are the president's grandchildren. Due to these connections Sitara and her family happen to be in the palace on the day of a murderous coup. A guard, who turned on the president, for some reason, decides to take pity on Sitara and rescues her from the palace after she witnesses the murder of her family. After risking his and his families safety, he leaves her with two American women who help protect her from danger and help her escape to America. We pick up with her in 2008. She lives in New York City and is an accomplished oncology surgeon. When an encounter in her life brings her past to the forefront she is determined to find answers and to do so must return back to Kabul. At first when the time jump happened I felt robbed of an entire chunk of her story. As I continued reading there were enough memories shared that I was able to fill in much of her formative years and see the events that helped (along with the tragedy and her early years) shape her into the women she became. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking. It gives hope through tragedy and survival. It honors the past and brings to light the struggle of one girl whose life was irrevocably altered at a young age and the and the affects of witnessing has on her life. This book is one that has many great talking points as it touches on the politics of the country over the years and the impact of outside interference. It shows the evolution of Afghanistan from a country that was popular to tourists to how it is seen today. It has definitely piqued my interest and I would like to check out some of the books the author mentions in her epilogue to expand my knowledge. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for an ALC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsay

    I'll start by saying that I LOVED this book! I received my copy of Sparks Like Stars through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am so grateful that if I were to win any book, this was that one. I was previously unfamiliar with the Saur Revolution, so I was excited to read this story and found myself inspired to learn more about the history of Afghanistan, including Afghanistan's relationships with other countries (particularly with the United States and Russia), starting with the Cold War and extending I'll start by saying that I LOVED this book! I received my copy of Sparks Like Stars through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am so grateful that if I were to win any book, this was that one. I was previously unfamiliar with the Saur Revolution, so I was excited to read this story and found myself inspired to learn more about the history of Afghanistan, including Afghanistan's relationships with other countries (particularly with the United States and Russia), starting with the Cold War and extending into this century. Sitara's life is turned upside down when her family is assassinated during the Communist coup in April 1978. The beginning of the book centers around her life as a carefree, fun-loving, spunky child living a very privileged life. Her life is tragically turned upside-down, and we transition with her into survival mode, as being a survivor of the coup puts her life and safety in tremendous danger. The latter part of the book takes place thirty years later, as Sitara seeks to find and resolve the truth of what happened to her family on that terrible night. This is the first of Nadia Hashimi's books that I have read, and I was hooked from the beginning. There were scary moments when I was on the edge of my seat, terrified for what might happen next; heartbreaking moments when I was frustrated or even crying; poignant moments when my heart swelled with compassion for Sitara and those who loved her. I love Sitara as a character, and I loved being on her journey with her. Nadia's writing is lovely and elegant, eloquent and graceful. The story moved along with a perfect balance of action and description, just enough description to build incredible imagery in your mind, and plenty of action to propel you through Sitara's harrowing and enlightening journey. Hashimi's female characters are intelligent and daring, brave and compassionate - a wonderful cast of strong women. I look forward to reading other books by Nadia Hashimi, and I'm so glad that I read this one. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi. Thanks to @williammorrow for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sitara lives a charmed life in the palace in Kabul. All this changes when the communists stage a coup and her family and friends are all left for dead. After escaping to America and making a life for herself as a doctor, she is confronted with a soldier from her past. This was a beautifully told story that will appeal to historical fiction and Kite Runner lovers. The book for me was broken into two parts; the m Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi. Thanks to @williammorrow for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sitara lives a charmed life in the palace in Kabul. All this changes when the communists stage a coup and her family and friends are all left for dead. After escaping to America and making a life for herself as a doctor, she is confronted with a soldier from her past. This was a beautifully told story that will appeal to historical fiction and Kite Runner lovers. The book for me was broken into two parts; the main character’s youth in Afghanistan and her adult years in America. Unfortunately I found the first half much more interesting. The first half had a lot about the culture, taking place in the palace and of course the excitement of the coop. The second half was a bit slower, with the main character dealing with the repercussions of her trauma as an adult. While I didn’t love this book, I did still enjoy it and think it was beautifully written. I think that true historical fiction fans will especially love this one. “But maybe, I thought, if I could manage to feign bravery in this moment, then I could feign bravery at another moment. And maybe if I feigned bravery enough, I could grow into it.” Sparks Like Stars comes out 3/2.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    ARC from NetGalley and William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I don’t even know where to begin... well maybe with the fact this this subject was completely unknown to me and I feel so much more rounded now that I had exposure to this story. The story of an Afghan girl who escaped a coup and was brave enough to start a new life with a new name with complete strangers... it just really pulled at your heartstrings. Aryana was so brave. Her talisman, that she kept, and how she parted with i ARC from NetGalley and William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I don’t even know where to begin... well maybe with the fact this this subject was completely unknown to me and I feel so much more rounded now that I had exposure to this story. The story of an Afghan girl who escaped a coup and was brave enough to start a new life with a new name with complete strangers... it just really pulled at your heartstrings. Aryana was so brave. Her talisman, that she kept, and how she parted with it. Everything about this story was just fascinating. I felt the Hashimi was very smart with making her able to understand Dari (I think) and English. It made this story even more believable. And I loved the connections to the Romanovs. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this story before pub day!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I really liked this one. There was so much to gush about it. The story starts out in 1978 in Kabul as a coup is underway. The MC, a young girl, somehow escapes the massacre and so the story begins. The emotion in this felt so raw and real. I could see and feel her and her predicament. The author painted rich detail into the characters, the place, the relationships....as well as the sense of loss that occurred in more than one way. She had to get to a point where she could sift through it all and I really liked this one. There was so much to gush about it. The story starts out in 1978 in Kabul as a coup is underway. The MC, a young girl, somehow escapes the massacre and so the story begins. The emotion in this felt so raw and real. I could see and feel her and her predicament. The author painted rich detail into the characters, the place, the relationships....as well as the sense of loss that occurred in more than one way. She had to get to a point where she could sift through it all and deal. She makes her way to America where she grows up but eventually finds her way back to Kabul to confront the ghosts of her past. It was a poignant journey and this is a story that will stay with me for a while. So 5 stars for this one. This is the 4th book by this author that I've read and it is by far my favorite. She usually is in the 3 star range but I loved this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Literary Hoarders)

    BEAUTIFUL! I predict this will be one of my favorite reads of 2021. This novel is absolutely amazing: wonderful characters, a heart-wrenching plot, infinite wisdom, and so much love. I had no idea what to expect when I started, and I was delighted to be taken in after just a couple pages. Can't wait to read more from Nadia Hashimi; I've already added her previous books to my TBR list. BEAUTIFUL! I predict this will be one of my favorite reads of 2021. This novel is absolutely amazing: wonderful characters, a heart-wrenching plot, infinite wisdom, and so much love. I had no idea what to expect when I started, and I was delighted to be taken in after just a couple pages. Can't wait to read more from Nadia Hashimi; I've already added her previous books to my TBR list.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mercedes Stacey (Andthatswhatsheread)

    I really enjoyed this one! Hashimi has a way of making you connect to her characters and feel what they’re feeling. There weren’t so many characters that it was confusing too, which is so nice for audiobooks. I loved the historical aspects and that I learned a lot while reading. I loved learning more about Afghanistan and Kabul! I definitely want to read more of her books so I can travel there with her characters! Thanks NetGalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    This was an amazing read. The main character pulls you in. She has you rooting for her survival from the beginning.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    It is 1978, Kabul, when a young Sitara witnesses the murder of her family during the military coup.Sitara manages to escape, but is haunted by the events. Aided by an American embassy worker and her mother, Sitara leaves for America, but using the name of her sister, Ayana, who was born in the US when her parents lived there for two years. The story is one emphasizing the various forces of upheaval in Afghanistan, while bringing the story of this one woman into our hearts. I loved the book, and It is 1978, Kabul, when a young Sitara witnesses the murder of her family during the military coup.Sitara manages to escape, but is haunted by the events. Aided by an American embassy worker and her mother, Sitara leaves for America, but using the name of her sister, Ayana, who was born in the US when her parents lived there for two years. The story is one emphasizing the various forces of upheaval in Afghanistan, while bringing the story of this one woman into our hearts. I loved the book, and the bravery Sitara shows possible under the worst circumstances is hopeful. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, which I highly recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sage

    THIS BOOK DESTROYED ME. Thank you to William Morrow for approving my DRC request — it’s rare that I read a DRC and feel the need to own a physical copy, but I absolutely need a hard copy of this book when it comes out in March. This is truly incredible. It broke my heart into a million pieces, and was so epic in scope. 10-year-old Sitara’s family are killed in the 1978 communist coup in Afghanistan, and she is smuggled to safety by a soldier (literally dropped on the doorstep of an American dipl THIS BOOK DESTROYED ME. Thank you to William Morrow for approving my DRC request — it’s rare that I read a DRC and feel the need to own a physical copy, but I absolutely need a hard copy of this book when it comes out in March. This is truly incredible. It broke my heart into a million pieces, and was so epic in scope. 10-year-old Sitara’s family are killed in the 1978 communist coup in Afghanistan, and she is smuggled to safety by a soldier (literally dropped on the doorstep of an American diplomat. Through A FREAKIN JOURNEY she ends up in America, adopted by the diplomat, Antonia (BIG heart eyes @ Nia’s mom, Tilly!!!). She takes the name Aryana, and tries to bury her trauma in the back of her brain. 40 years later in New York City, Aryana is a surgeon and WHO IS ONE OF HER PATIENTS but the SOLDIER who smuggled her out of the palace. Obviously this stirs up a crapload of buried baggage, and Aryana decides to go back to Kabul, face her past, and try to recover her family’s remains. WHEW. I loved the prose, and the structure of this book, so much. There were sentences that I want to remember forever. As a “fan” of Anastasia Romanov (the animated movie back in the day!!!), I was pleased to see references pop up. It was made all the more poignant by Aryana’s own experiences, and how much she identified with Anastasia really hit me deeply. This book was remarkable and emotional and a fantastic read. Instead of just jumping to another book, I think I need to sit with this one a bit. What a story.

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