by Betty J Taylor (Macon GA): This book grabbed me from the very beginning. The writing is superb, the story heartbreaking and haunting. If you loved Khalid Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, then you must read this book.

A powerful quote from it: “Everywhere she went, it seemed, it was open season on women. Rape, female genital mutilation, bride burnings, domestic abuse – everywhere, in every country, women were abused, isolated, silenced, imprisoned, controlled, punished, and killed. Sometimes, it seemed to Smita that the history of the world was written in female blood.”

Smita, a young American Indian journalist, returns to India to cover a story about the murder and attempted murder of a couple in a village in a rural part of India. Abdul, a Muslim, and Meena, a Hindu, dared to fall in love and marry. Meena’s family has been dishonored and must pay. Her brothers kill Abdul and try to kill Meena. But Meena and their daughter survive.

Smita is plagued with the memories of the night her family fled India with no intention to ever return. While she has very negative views of India, her driver Mohan gracefully listens to her and expresses his love for and pride in his home country. Together, they confront the brutality against Abdul and Meena and the corrupt leadership that allows it to happen. Smita and Mohan both will have their views of India challenged.

This is a story of love, hope, cultural and religious clashes, sacrifice, and promises kept. The bravery of Meena, the callousness of Ammi (Meena’s mother-in-law) and the kind heart of Mohan will linger with me for some time.

I highly recommend this phenomenal book.