Girls Burn Brighter is a thick flavorful soup of a novel full of the spices of India. It is also a heart wrenching tale of two poor young Indian women’s hopes, dreams and grim realities.
Young Poornima is the oldest of two sisters with a younger brother when her mother dies from cancer. Needing someone to run the other sari fabric loom, her father hires Savitha, another young woman from an even poorer family. Poornima and Savitha become best friends. When tradition and violence divides them onto separate life paths, the novel alternates their stories.
Growing up poor is harsh anywhere, but in India in 2001, female baby’s names aren’t even recorded in the village records. Within this novel, females are useless except for three things: housekeeping, sex and babies. It is an unrelentingly dark viewpoint that permeates this book. However, parts of the book show an excitement for the physical details of life: the smells, sounds and colors of India.
Girls Burn Brighter had some great pre-release reviews so I picked it up. I didn’t even know the basic plot when I began reading this book and I believe that is best. It is highly recommended literary women’s fiction. While reading its heroines’ horrifying stories, it does make your relatively insignificant problems seem petty at best. I just pray that this story is not in any way based on fact. 4 stars!
Be aware that this novel has some adult content and themes and so should be read only by adults.
Thanks to the publisher, Flatiron, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.