Girls Burn Brighter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

A devastating story of the separation of two young indian girls living in poverty struggling to find a sense of home, love, and acceptance being a woman in a hyper-patriarchal culture. Their journeys through rejection from their families, abuse from husbands and in-laws, and eventual powerlessness that leads to sex-trafficking brings them to helplessness but does not break them. This book demonstrates the remarkable courage of these two protagonists.
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Girls Burn Brighter is the fascinating story of a friendship between two girls that stretches across continents. Tackling huge issues such as human trafficking, domestic abuse and immigration, the novel still manages to be intimate and heart-wrenching. This is a lovely meditation on friendship that left me with a lot to think about.
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I recommend this to writer and activist Ruth Ann Deveney in Episode 154 of What Should I Read Next: "WSIRN Ep 154: Books so inspiring you might be afraid to read them"
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A beautifully written novel of poverty, trauma, and loss. Covering the lives of two women born into poverty and forced to make a life for themselves in deeply patriarchal, rural India. The circumstances of their flight and eventual re-location to the US may seem unrealistic within just two characters, but could easily be taken as representative of possible trafficking victims.
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Poornima and Savitha became best friends growing up in India as they bonded together to survive the brutal conditions they face. Eventually, they are forced apart. Savitha is victimized and forced to flee her village, and Poornima is married off. Each situation is full of perils for the young women. Desperate to recover her friendship with Savitha, the only thing she really has left, Poornima leaves her life and seeks to reunite with her best friend. While I found the ending a bit forced, the book in its entirety was a powerful statement about what women endure in many parts of the world. This novel is well written and deeply affecting.
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novels of friendship are often given short shrift by critics usually rightly so due to the cliche manner most are written. however, Rao is able to write a literary novel that never feels to bloated or overly serious, instead staying focused and reveling in its depth of character
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Two strong feminine heroines who chose to determine their own destiny rather than have it 'arranged' for them.
Poornima and Savitha are both poor, ambitious, and determined young women. 
Poornima was forced into a marriage with Kishore while Savitha was struggling to survive having escaped from India heading East, West, or whatever way gave her freedom.
On their long, treacherous, horrendously vicious journey these two women had remarkably similar paths that would leave them battered, bruised, but stronger than ever to make it out alive.
Facing brothels, facing abuse, facing insurmountable odds, these two women continued to fight refusing to allow a man to 'own' them.
Cleaning houses and selling their bodies was not what the cards had dealt them because these women were 'shepherds' but more so they were 'leaders' for the free world.
A world that need not keep a women from spreading her wings and flying.
Learning English was just one part of the struggle as these women were lied to, cheated, robbed, and in one case even had agreed to removal of a hand for money in seeking peace.
Mohan, Madhavi, Guru were some of the 'wicked' along the way but each one gave them something more to hold on too along this path.
Burned by oil, scarred for life, riddled with horrific dreams, having endured violent sex and much more these two women refused to give up.
It's this strength that captures the heart of the audience.
While I wasn't quite certain about the ending I did enjoy this novel and have a friend who escaped the same abuse from India with scars over much of her body but her soul is alive and well and her beauty shines from within regardless of her circumstances that brought her to America.
These women are the beacons of light for all the women who are fleeing for their lives to escape the atrocities they leave behind.
Thank you to Shobha Rao, the publisher, NetGalley and Aldiko for this ARC copy as well as Hoyt Library for this hard copy back up.
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Shobha Rao does an amazing job getting readers invested in the fates of Poornima and Savitha.  This well-written page turner had me rooting for these two friends to the very last word.
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This novel turned into much more than I bargained for. I did not anticipate the amount of tragedy and turmoil I was going to do through as a reader. Though at times I struggled to continue with the story, I thoroughly enjoyed the girls stories.
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A stunning debut that examines the enduring power of love, friendship, hope, and perseverance. Evocative without being manipulative, Rao writes the story of two best friends with a sure hand and a powerful voice that doesn't go quietly into the night but rather shouts from the heaven the atrocities that befall them and the amazing tenacity and willpower that allows them to survive. A bittersweet story that is a stunning tribute to women and feminism as through the lens of misogyny and poverty that will break your heart a million times but leave you oddly satisfied in the end. One of my top reads for 2018. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Rao in the future.
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This book was so good but also so hard to read at times. I couldn't just sit there and read it, I had to take it in chunks. The things that these women face is just unreal, but I also know that it IS real. Which just hurt even more.

The writing in this was beautiful and I really liked that we got both of the girls POVs. 

I just was a little disappointed by the ending. After everything these two went through, to end it where it did just felt like it was cut off. I was surprised when I turned the last page and found nothing more.
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Wow. I had no idea this book was about human trafficking. This gut-wrenching story of two young Indian women covers discussable topics ripped from today's headlines in a brutal and very real way. Although the lives of these two characters are constantly challenged by cultural horrors including mutilation for a 'better price' as well as disfigurement caused by an 'angry husband', they never waiver in their search for one another. Their individual drive and collective strengths, their willingness to defy what's expected of them, bring them to a final somewhat rewarding place. Meeting societal and cultural wrongs head on, Girls Burn Brighter is not for the faint of heart.
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Oh my! This one took my breath and my soul. A heartbreaking yet somehow ever hopeful story of the humiliation and abuse of two young women with no one or nothing to depend on but their love for each other. Although the story begins in India, it continues in the US as does the disregard for the value of the lives of these two women. Read at your own peril, as this book will not let you remain unmoved. I will not soon stop thinking of Poornima and Savitha and the real women like them who suffer ungodly abasement because of poverty and their sex.
I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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One of my goals this year is to not only read new-to-me authors but also authors who write about different places, cultures and people to expand my knowledge. This was my choice for last month and it was a good one. Rao created vivid characters in Poornima and Savitha. They came alive for me and I felt both their strength and also their heartbreak. Women are more commodity than people in India and it broke my heart. I also sat in awe of their strength, their faith and their willingness to find their way to back to one another and a better life. It was an eye-opening read, although sometimes very bleak, and yet a triumphant showcase of the human spirit.
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This book. The things these girls go thru were so difficult to read about; that they stayed determined to find something better was amazing. Good read.
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If the cover doesn't set your world ablaze, the story certainly will.
Girls Burn Brighter is tragic and beautiful, a nearly snapped thread of tension. I like intense books like this.
Poornima and Savitha live deeply in poverty, doing whatever they can to survive. Steeped in love, friendships, loss, and, ultimately, survival, it was so hard to put down.
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Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter is an intense story of survival and sisterhood. 
And so much more. 

Set in India against a backdrop of a strict caste system, arranged marriages, and harsh poverty, the two main characters of Rao’s poetic story develop an unlikely friendship that proves to be an enduring constant on which they build the strength needed to endure the violence and powerlessness they experience. This alone is reason enough to read the book but I knew it was important to push myself past the initial awe at this story of strength and resiliency. When I did, I experienced an even deeper story of multidimensional characters navigating their lives and attempting to balance tradition with self-realization.

The book begins with a story about a temple in the village of Indravalli and the old childless woman who was responsible for growing the trees whose wood was used to build it. Referring to the trees as her children, the old woman is complimented on her good fortune to have so many sons. At this, with “her eyes on fire,” the woman quickly gives the correction that the trees are not her sons but her daughters. This story and its subtle emphasis on fire, wholeness, and the girl-child sets the tone for the book and these recurring themes.

As the book continues, the reader witnesses Rao’s distinct talent for detailed descriptions of the surroundings of her main characters, Poornima and Savitha. She offers us a vibrant, albeit stark, picture of life in Indravalli and the ever-present gender inequities women face. Both characters experience trauma that forces them apart and drastically changes the trajectories of their lives.
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3.5 Poornima and Savitha are two teenage girls living in various degrees of poverty. When Savitha is hired to help with the family livlihood of making saris, they become close friends. So much so that they seek each other out at every turn. A cruel act will send Savitha on the run, and shortly after Poornima will run from a horrible situation she finds herself in, now turning her attention to reuniting with her friend.

The story takes us from India to the United States, chapters alternate between the girls as they tell their story. Will take us from arranged marriages, human trafficking, and the plight of those used for cheap labor in the United States. Not an easy book to read, so many horrific things happen to these girls, alone in the world without a protector. I had to keep putting the book down, turning to something else, the abuse almost relentless at times. I felt so for these young women.

The title is to show that despite what these girls go through they still retain an inner light, with thoughts of their friendship to sustain them.  Regardless what they go through, these are the thoughts that keep them going, the hope of seeing each other again. So, it is also a novel of a very special frirndship. That is what also kept me reading. Would they find each other again?
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Initially I thought I was going to love this book about female friendship and the depth and strength of the bonds. My heart BROKE from the abuse and violence these two women endured. Then it became repetitive, plot-wise, the abuse, loneliness and longing to find each other and I skimmed some parts. The ending made me furious because sometimes you just want a solid conclusion not a choose your own. The writing is gorgeous, though.
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This was beautiful! The characters are complex and drawn in such a way that it is impossible to read without getting emotionally caught up in Poornima and Savitha's lives. A great book club book.
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