In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore – only to disappear.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.
Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University, and studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim, and he now regularly appears on TV and radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He lives in Lahore and is currently working on his third novel. Follow Awais on Twitter @AwaisKhanAuthor.
I’m not even sure where to start on this review. I’ve been totally absorbed and immersed in this book. Awais Khan made me feel like I was there with the characters. I felt that I could almost tap Abida on the shoulder.
I wanted to hug her and take her to safety myself. Reading this book made me realise that I knew far less about the so called honour killings in Pakistan than I thought I did.
I was equally horrified and cheering Abida on for her grit and determination. I felt the rightful sense of anger from the author oozing from the pages, and I was grateful that he is bringing this horrific thing to light. Even then it is sheer absorbing brilliance that shows the strength of both love and hatred. As a parent I was equally protective, furious and willing her to survive in this sheer whirlwind of a novel that drags you through breathless and hanging in needing to know how it all ends.
This book should be read by everyone everywhere, and maybe things in the world could start to change. In the most awful of moments I still couldn’t stop myself from reading this book. By turns, astounding and illuminating you will not be able to put this book down. If it doesn’t also anger you at the injustice the author highlights I’d be amazed.
With many thanks to the publisher, Anne Cater and the author for the advanced reading copy of this book.