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A Sister to Honor: A Novel by Lucy Ferriss
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A Sister to Honor: A Novel

by Lucy Ferriss

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A Sister to Honor was such an emotional book for me to read. There are so many different items brought to attention that had to be difficult to describe and convey accurately.

The story Ferriss wove was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking at times. I could not imagine living in fear of those that I love most. It’s a hard concept to grasp because they way family ties are held in the Pashtun area are not ones that are seen in America. Ferriss did an amazing job of researching the culture before she wrote this. I learned a lot about the culture, and it’s definitely eye-opening.

I’m trying to keep from spoiling the story because it is a definite must read. I appreciate how she shows the different ways Americans and the Pashtuns hold honor. And how she told the story of a brother and sister trying to come to terms with love, honor, and deciding if you should have to live the life that is expected of you.

Such a great book! Just be warned that there are times you will want to rage, as well as times where you want to break down and hold the characters and ensure that everything will be okay. Words cannot do this book justice. ( )
  BookishThings | Mar 23, 2016 |
I saw this one listed a couple of months ago and couldn’t wait for it’s release date! I have been reading a few books about Muslim women lately, so I put this one on reserve as soon as I could. It is always so much fun to be the FIRST to read a new library book!

This one was well worth the wait. I actually lost sleep over this one because I couldn’t put it down. The book was an emotional roller coaster, centered around Afia Satar, a pre-med student from Pakistan attending a small woman’s university in New England. Her brother Shahid is the star athlete for his squash team at a nearby university. A major theme in the book is honor, and how our understanding of honor shapes who we are. Many of the characters in this book act out of ‘honor’ but we learn that different people, and different cultures, have different interpretations of the word ‘honor’.. We also see how hard it is to understand a culture different than our own, as both Afia and her American friends struggle to understand and accept these different interpretations.

I really felt like I got to know these characters and I worried about their fate. Afia was so sweet and innocent, torn between her love for Gus, an American student and teammate of Shahid, and her duty to her family to return home untainted by American values. Shahid was smart with such a bright future, and he loved his sister very much. He was torn between his desire to protect her and his obligation to redeem the family honor. This led to some tense moments when I feared for each of them! And just when I thought the story was coming to an end...it didn’t! There was a lot more story to tell!

This was definitely a WOW! read for me and I’ll be talking about this one for awhile. I won’t be at all surprised this December when it shows up on my ‘best reads of 2015’ list! This will be a great book club selection with discussion ranging from the definition of honor to family obligation and beyond! ( )
  Time2Read2 | Feb 6, 2015 |
Afia and her brother Shahid have come to America from Pakistan. Shahid came first to play squash in college. He then convinced his family in Pakistan that sending his sister to complete her studies and become a doctor was the best thing for their family. Shahid promised to protect her and protect their family honor. Shahid was busy with his own studies, working toward his future coaching career at Harvard, and his squash matches that he missed Afia, off at another college, living a bit more Americanized than his family would have liked. Soon a photo appears on the college webpage of Afia holding hands with an American man. Word travels back to Pakistan and their family's honor is immediately in jeopardy. How did the family find out so quickly about the photo? Shahid is expected to take care of this situation, but can he do what is expected of him?

Understanding the culture, religion and honor code of families in Pakistan is central to this novel. Ferriss does an excellent job of displaying the American's inability to grasp this strict honor code and Shahid and Afia's need to maintain it even while here in the United States. This clash of cultures causes numerous problems not only for Afia and Shahid, but for their American friends as well. Nothing in the novel was unbelievable and sadly, I'm sure there was a lot of truth to the situations that played out in Afia and Shahid's story.

A story like this is eye-opening for those of us who cannot comprehend that type of honor code and rules that are expected to be followed. When those rules are broken, the ripple effects through the community back home and for the family can be life-changing. Reading Afia's struggle over the decision to do what is right for her family and country and doing what she wanted to do was heartbreaking. It is something that most of us born and raised in the Midwest could never understand. I find reading and learning about other cultures fascinating. The expectations and rules for women, especially in Islamic countries, remind me to appreciate the freedoms and opportunities I have here in America.

This conversation between Coach Hayes and her husband about Shahid gives a glimpse into that honor code:

"What difference did you want him to see?

"The one between quilt and shame."
"Would it be sinful for Afia to have a boyfriend,
or just shameful if people knew about it?"
Page 60

I found each of the characters realistic whether they were in America or Pakistan. Shahid's relationship with his coach and mentor, Lissy Hayes and Afia's romantic relationship with Gus were well-developed and their personalities jumped off the pages. Afia’s personal struggle between remaining covered to honor her family, yet wanting to wear American clothing in order to fit in were understandable. The author even described the first tastes of American food, like Afia’s first burger and her struggle with making one for the first time. The characters became real and allowed the reader to become invested and root for them when life became difficult.

The beginning of the novel started slowly for me as the story began in Pakistan with names of people and places that were difficult to keep track of. The family relationships were confusing and a family tree would have helped keep everyone straight. Eventually, the important characters emerged and when the following chapters took the story to America, it became easier to follow.

Once you reach a third of the way into the novel it will be difficult to put down. You will find yourself in shock and incredulous to what is unfolding on the pages in front of you. There were a few times I expected the story to go in one direction and then it lead me in a completely different one. This book is a page-turner all the way to the very end. Even with an ending that leaves you a little unsatisfied, you still find yourself satiated with a story full of twists and turns, love, romance, family, and forgiveness. All of these are keys to a great story and A SISTER TO HONOR is one you will be compelled to finish quickly. ( )
  Staciele | Jan 15, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425276406, Paperback)

Afia Satar is studious, modest, and devout. The young daughter of a landholding family in northern Pakistan, Afia has enrolled in an American college with the dream of returning to her country as a doctor. But when a photo surfaces online of Afia holding hands with an American boy, she is suddenly no longer safe—even from the family that cherishes her.
 
Rising sports star Shahid Satar has been entrusted by his family to watch over Afia in this strange New England landscape. He has sworn to protect his beloved sister from the dangerous customs of America, from its loose morals and easy virtue. Shahid was the one who convinced their parents to allow her to come to the United States. He never imagined he’d be ordered to cleanse the stain of her shame...

READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:18 -0400)

"Afia Satar is studious, modest, and devout. The young daughter of a landholding family in northern Pakistan, Afia has enrolled in an American college with the dream of returning to her country as a doctor. But when a photo surfaces online of Afia holding hands with an American boy, she is suddenly no longer safe-even from the family that cherishes her. Rising sports star Shahid Satar has been entrusted by his family to watch over Afia in this strange New England landscape. He has sworn to protect his beloved sister from the dangerous customs of America, from its loose morals and easy virtue. Shahid was the one who convinced their parents to allow her to come to the United States. He never imagined he'd be ordered to cleanse the stain of her shame... READERS GUIDE INCLUDED"--… (more)

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