Cover Image: House of Glass Hearts

House of Glass Hearts

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars.

House of Glass Hearts is an interesting historical fiction with a touch of magical realism. It's a story of love, loss and healing. 

The story begins with Asad, a nine year boy walking into a forbidden greenhouse in his grandfather's backyard and then disappearing with no explanation. Ten years laters, with the grandfather's death, the same greenhouse suddenly appears in the backyard where Asad's sister and mother lives. The story is shown in the past and present. Present, as Asad's sister Maera embarks on solving the mystery of her brothers disappearance & the mysterious greenhouse. And past, the grandfathers childhood, where WWII is taking place, and Hindustan being divided into India & Pakistan with the British leaving & the chaos that comes with it. 

While I found it difficult to connect with the present part of the book which follows Maera, I enjoyed the 'past' portion of the book. It was insightful and showed the effects of the partition. 

I feel you would like this book if you enjoy magical realism, mythical creatures. If you are looking for a fast paced book this isn't for you.
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Thank you to netgalley for the chance to read this title early!

Can I just say that as a debut novel wow. 

The complex plot line kept me hooked and the in depth look at the Pakistan culture really adds to the story throughout. I would urge anyone to give this a read as it is not a book I would normally pick up but I am so glad I did! Watch out for the plot twist too! I almost lost my kindle through a window!
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House of Glass Hearts, it is Leila Siddiqui's debut novel and I can say that it was a story that I really liked 🤍. In this book they tell us the story of Maera, a Pakistani-American teenager whose life is turned upside down by the mysterious disappearance of her brother when they visited their grandfather in Pakistan. This event shapes her life forever and reduces it to two words: «The Past ”, which is where Maera's family has decided to keep everything bad and never talk about it, as if it never happened, or that is, until the death of her grandfather brings the memories and loss to the surface again, next to a mysterious greenhouse that seems to have a life of its own.

In general, the story and the way it is told I liked it a lot, it has a mixture of the two places where Maera belongs, Pakistan and the United States, and how they are interwoven in the way she presents herself, I was also delighted that the rest of the characters preserve their essence and the roots of the place where they come from and that the story had an important load of Pakistani culture and how it is reflected in the mystery that Maera decided to discover.

The House of Glass hearts is a story that unfolds around two concepts, "loss" and "past" and how these affect the characters' lives, especially when there are no answers to events that have happened. I would venture to say that it has several characteristics of magical realism.

A point that stood out in the novel are these visits to the past of Maera's grandfather, this adds depth to a character that is not physically present in the main plot but that in any case its absence continues to mark the lives of the rest of the characters.
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trigger warning
<spoiler> child disappearence, grief, rape, racism </spoiler>

After her grandfather's death, his greenhouse shows up in their garden overnight. And as if that was not weird enough, the adults don't seem to be able to see it.

We have two timelines: Contemporary USA, I believe Virginia was mentioned but am not sure enough to tag it, and India around the second world war and the partition - the latter being a topic that gives me the creeps, probably because I only heard twice about it, both times in novels, and it never ended well for the people involved.
(Just a clarification, WWII gives me the creeps, too, but living in Germany, and having had to talk about it again and again and again in school, also makes me bored by the topic. Weird mix.)

In present-time-timeline, years ago, the protagonist's brother went missing, probably in the greenhouse that now stands in their garden. She doesn't really know, it isn't talked about, so she is curious and determined to go in there and find out what's up.

We have a teenager doing stupid teenage things, but at least she has company: Her cousin has arrived from Pakistan because of the grandfather's loss, the whole family gathers. Her best friend is there, and stirred from the arrival of the greenhouse, the lost brother's best friend who hasn't been around since the disappearance suddenly stands in their garden, talking of nightmares.

I think this works because it is so short. It is not my favourite, but I can't find a real mistake that was made. I guess it's just not for me, and I hope many readers will find this, and themselves in the pages.

The arc was provided by the publisher.
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magic, Pakistan, cultural-exploration, cultural-heritage, customs-and-belief-systems, grief, family, family-dynamics, friendship, teens, history-and-culture*****

It's hard to be a teen anywhere, but it's even harder when you are between two very different cultures. Part of the family lives in the US, but the whole family is rooted in Pakistan with it's quite different belief system. One of the problems facing Maera is the sudden disappearance of one of her friends ten years ago and the sudden appearance if a magical greenhouse in the yard in Pakistan. A very interesting story about teens in a culture I know little about. I enjoyed it a lot.
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Yali Books/Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) via NetGalley. Thank you!
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I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  

I try to be honest with all my reviews. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this book. The main character Maera was very annoying, almost childlike. The writing style was all over the place and let me feeling more confused than anything. Great idea for a book but just not my cup of tea.
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This novel is a beautiful read. Set in Pakistan, the protagonist is on a journey to discover her grandfather's past. This novel discusses a historical narrative that is often hidden in mainstream history. The themes of loss, love and learning is heavily encapsulated throughout the novel.
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Thank you Netgalley and Yali Books for the opportunity to read and review this eARC.

This was a really interesting book - it has tons of potential, but at this point still feels unfinished/unrefined. The story begins when Maera and her older brother Asad are visiting family in Pakistan. Asad wanders away from the other children one night to explore, and goes into a mysterious greenhouse in their grandfather's backyard, one that has always been out of bounds. He's never seen again. 

Ten years later, Maera is nearing the end of high school when her grandfather Haroon dies, and his mysterious greenhouse appears in her backyard - thousands of miles away, in the US. Maera's mother, already broken by the devastating loss of her child, hardly seems to notice or care, and when her mother's twin sister appears, she doesn't seem to notice it either. Maera and her cousin Jamaal - who wants to be called Jimmy - want to find the truth, and they begin with the diary that appeared in Maera's room the same day as the greenhouse. In it, they find Haroon's story...

This book swaps perspectives between modern day and the tumultuous, painful time around the partition of Hindustan into India and Pakistan. I understand why- the author, a diaspora child herself, wanted to explore the past through the lens of a modern Pakistani-American. However, the chapters told from Maera's perspective read very "middle grade" and simplistic with Maera arguing with her mom, forgoing prayers, and crushing on the boy next door. I think middle grade certainly has a place and an audience, but it's just not my thing. I nearly put this book down as a DNF.

But Haroon's story in WWII era Hindustan into Partition was rich, vibrant, engaging, and scary. His chapters really highlight Hindustani-Pakistani culture and storytelling, making use of frightening Churailen. (For those who want a visual reference for a churail, I strongly suggest the movie Bulbul on netflix; they are really pretty scary!) Haroon and Shah Jehan's story is definitely written in a way that suits an older audience, not so much middle grade. There are some really dark themes involved. Appropriate, for such a dark era, but the change between Maera's and Haroon's povs is so stark and abrupt that it's jarring. If the Maera portions of the book were tightened up and edited some to better fit the tone of Haroon's story I think this would be a five star read.
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Maera’s brother Asad vanished inside a greenhouse in Pakistan many years ago. Many years later, that greenhouse suddenly appears in American, in Maera’s backyard. 

I DNF’d this at 29%. The main character, Marta, is descrived as a 16-17 year old, but talks and acts like a 3-4 year old. The entire book is written extremely childishly, and I couldn’t bring myself to continue reading it. The writing style was very confusing, and I’m unsure of what the plot was supposed to be. Would not recommend this to anyone.
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Ok.. Wow. The last part just blew me.

Maera, an Indian-American teenage girl, lives with her Ammi. They never talk about The Past, especially never mention the night Maera’s older brother Asad disappeared from her naana’s house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather’s past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family’s secrets—the monsters that live inside her grandfather’s mysterious house of glass.

Not gonna lie, the first 70% of it, I was struggling to read it, struggling to accept the whole mess it was, because the plot was too complicated. There were three major genres, the mystery-thrill, historical and teen romance. I couldn't find a nice balance between them, especially with accepting those Churailain. 

Having seen so many third class bollywood horror movies, I don't think that helped with the concept of Churail, infact, that made all of it even more ridiculous. 

The writing was very slow paced, it just went on and on with not much happening and I just wanted to sleep through it. I tried to take it as a challenge, that's why I hadn't dnf'd it. Apart from that, there were sometimes I would find a line that's unedited? Because it makes so sense. Like this.. "Watch how the country will changes" or "She could felt her heart beat in a frenzied rhythm". What was that?

The last 20% accelerated from 0 to 100 so fast! For a while I thought it was even comical how the stakes went so high all of a sudden. But it was good. I liked the last part a lot, the rush and so many secrets.. I cared about that, I had a reaction. 

I really liked Shah Jahan's character. She was the kind of person I would want to be best friends with. 

To conclude it all, I don't think I have ever read something like it. I hope the targeted age is 5-13, you don't want elders laughing and rolling their eyes at this. The historical representation was amazing! 

3.5 stars. 💙 Heart.

I would like to thank Net Galley for providing me with the arc of this book.
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Liked the diversity, but the book felt a bit slow and kind of pointless. I liked that an otherwise buried part of history got brought to life, but it was kind of predictable, so I have mixed feelings.
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Thank you to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

House of Glass Hearts was an enjoyable read. The plot focuses on Maera in the present time dealing with grief, family struggles, and the mysterious greenhouse that had appeared in her backyard overnight-and her grandfather's life in the past. I enjoyed the grandfathers point of view and learning about his life more than I did Maera's story. I learned a lot about colonial India that I never knew. The magical elements to the story were an amazing touch.

I thought the writing was really good. My only downside about the writing was how slow paced the book was. A lot of the action didn't happen until halfway through, which got me a little bored during the first half.

The characters were all enjoyable for the most part. By the end of the story I felt Maera's character fell a bit flat. A heartfelt conversation between her and her mother would have been a great addition.

Overall, I liked the book and I will definitely read more historical fiction by Leila Siddiqui.
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When Maera's grandfather dies, the strange greenhouse from his yard in Pakistan appears in her backyard in Virginia. And Maera is convinced it will help unravel the mystery of her brother's disappearance ten years before.
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Wow, I absolutely loved reading this twisty tale of love, loss and learning. This is definitely not the type of thing I would usually read but I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone with this one. And I was certainly not expecting this. House Of Glass Hearts is a fantastical thriller mostly set in Pakistan. What I loved most of all about this book, is the in-depth look at Pakistani culture. Prior to reading this, I didn’t really know much about it so not only did reading the book provide me with a fantastic mystery, but it also served as a learning experience.

The Plot
This is the synopsis I got from NetGalley:
Maera and her Ammi never talk about the Past, a place where they’ve banished their family’s heartache and grief forever. They especially never mention the night Maera’s older brother Asad disappeared from her Naana’s house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather’s past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family’s secrets—the monsters that live inside her grandfather’s mysterious house of glass.

Seamlessly blending history with myth, HOUSE OF GLASS HEARTS follows a Pakistani-American teen’s ruthless quest to find her missing sibling, even if the truth would reveal her grandfather’s devastating secret and tear her family apart. In a narrative that switches between colonial India and present-day America, this ambitious debut explores how the horrors of the past continue to shape the lives of South Asians around the world.

I honestly think that the plot was one of the best things about the book! It was gripping and kept me hooked throughout. Like I said before, I really liked the addition of Pakistani culture and history. Also, the plot twist near the end had me wanting to throw my iPad across the room. I absolutely didn’t see that coming from a mile off!

I actually found the writing quite hard to understand at some points and found myself getting confused. It was probably just because of the complex plot line (which I absolutely adored!)

I won’t go in depth into all the characters, because their is just too many good ones to write a good paragraph about each of them! I found that they were all very fleshed out and relatable. My favourite character was probably Shah Jehan, I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers, but I loved how brave she was as a woman in a very much male-dominated society.

Final Thoughts
I really liked this book and I recommend that you all pick it up when it gets released in September!
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Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy.
3.4/5. I really enjoyed this book. A blend of historical fact and contemporary fiction, House of Glass Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about a family deeply entrenched in loss and grief. Siddiqui does an excellent job discussing how loss affects families over time, and how far people are willing to go to avoid the past.
I had a difficult time with the narrators. Their voices were nearly indistinct from one another, and they seemed to be more opaque observers than active participants in the story. I felt like I was told more than I was shown about them, and I had a hard time understanding their desires and fears.
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From the start the book grabs you. There is magic, mystery and something mystical with the undertones of a story that needs to be learnt. We meet Asad, a vibrant, rambunctious 9 year old, who makes his way into a forbidden place leaving his family forever scarred. 

The story alternates between two timelines, one of Maera, Asad's younger sister, who is on her way to college now; she is faced with a greenhouse appearing in her backyard in the middle of the night after her grandfather's passing, the same greenhouse that used to exist in her grandfather's home in Pakistan. The second timeline is that of her grandfather, during WWII and the partition of Hindustan into India and Pakistan and follows his life and how these events changed it.

This book captures the heart of the damage and trauma of that partition, the lives lost, scarred and changed forever as seen through the eyes of a first generation immigrant growing up in America. It shines a light into a history that is not taught at all or sometimes glossed over when the bloody history of WWII is taught and the atrocities and lasting damage that the partition had on India and colonialism had on Asia! It also captures the legends and myths that used to haunt India and the fragility of women in a culture and time where men had the power. 

This book is also about taking the scars of the past and moving forward, healing and finding new purpose. For we all have to keep moving forward no matter how heartbreaking things get. 

It weaves history and myth to tell a story so beautiful it had me heartbroken and crying by the end. I would definitely recommend this book for its honesty and beauty and unapologetic and unbiased look at a dark and terrible time in history.

***I would like to note a few things, there is a scene when Rob and Maera are in the greenhouse and he removes a branch from the pathway, one moment he is confronting her and the next she is somehow on the ground and has one of her brother's toys in her hand, it feels like a scene is missing. I also noted that the word "was" is missing in 'as if she (was) perpetually'.
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I can tell House of Glass Hearts came from a place of love from the author. She cares passionately about displaced peoples and the heritage of those people. This story is done in a dual-timeline fashion as we unravel the mystery around a magical greenhouse that springs up in Maera's backyard. While searching for its secrets she  uncovers some secrets of her own family's history in Pakistan and India. 

For all the fantastical elements in the story I felt that there was a significant lack of world-building. You have to wait a long time to get the answers to questions surrounding the magic greenhouse, and it just doesn't feel very satisfying when you do get them. I also felt that the modern characters were quite flat and one-dimensional, Maera and her mother kept getting on my nerves with their non-communication. The only character I liked was her grandfather, but even my regard for him was hampered by the lack of description and world building in India and Pakistan. The author would throw out many words foreign to us, but not provide any context clues for me to even know what she is talking about. I stayed for the history (even though you only get a cursory glance at it), but at times it felt like a chore reading such an underdeveloped world and characters. Overall just an ok read.
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Full disclosure: This was provided via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Baseline: I loved this book. 
I almost didn't pick up this one but I'm so glad that I did, this book had historical fiction, mythical creatures and modern day mysteries all wrapped into one and it was amazing. 
As someone thats not that into historical fiction I was concerned that those aspects of this book were going to be a real drag to get through but a mixture of the writing style and the pacing together made this super interesting to read. 
I loved the way the author gave additional context to Maeras timeline by telling the story of her grandfathers life, it both lead the story on in a smooth way while also balancing out the horrific nature of some aspects of the historic timeline of this book but still giving those events the space to be impactful. 
Knowing nothing about Pakistani folklaw/mythology the inclusion of this simultaneously taught me about it while also making it super accessible so I never felt punished as a reader for not knowing about it before. Super interesting concepts all round and the author did a solid job of melding mythology, true historical events and modern day fiction all together at once. 
Definitely worth a read
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DNF at 25%

After reading other reviews and requesting this book I was expecting to really love it. I enjoy historical fiction and multiple perspectives. However, I found the beginning clunky and not as engaging as I wanted it to be. While there seemed promise that relationships between characters would show more the further I got into the book, the sudden change in timelines with the journal made me lose what little investment I had in the original characters.

Beautiful book cover, lovely premise, just not for me.
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Percy Jackson meets Historical Fiction in this haunting tale by Leila Siddiqui, who beautifully blends Indian/Pakistani history and myth together in House of Glass Hearts. Siddiqui beautifully tells the untold stories of her – and many other’s – ancestors as she explores India’s involvement in World War 2 and their fight for freedom from British colonisation, as well as the Partition of India that followed. 

The changing perspectives of protagonist Maera (as she searches for her long-lost brother in modern times) and Maera’s nanni/grandfather, Haroon (as he recounts living through WW2 and Indian Partition in the 1940s) helps build suspense and keep the reader engaged. Siddiqui frames the narrative in such a way that we can be simultaneously horrified by the devastating actions of some and tragic circumstances of many, and also inspired by the resilience and optimism of those who survived the horrors to pass their heritage and legacy on in their descendants. There are a few times when the narrative feels rushed as Siddiqui tries to fit a lot of action into the novel. The occasional Indian/Pakistani words throughout the novel give it a personal and authentic feel, although I’m not sure how easy it would have been to understand without using the Kindle search feature (as I did). The bibliography at the end gives the novel a credible quality whilst the explanation of Siddiqui’s own family history adds a sentimental touch to the narrative. 

House of Glass Hearts is a beautiful tale centred around family and lost loved ones. Siddiqui reminds us of the importance of being together and supporting each other during difficult times, whilst also conveying the significance of knowing about and discussing our pasts and our heritage, so that we may use them to move forward towards our futures.
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