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The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten…

by Sadia Shepard

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18014108,178 (4.03)15
In this beautifully crafted memoir, a young Muslim-Christian woman travels to an insular Jewish community in India to unlock her family's secret history.



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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A beautifully written book by an Indian-American woman searching for her roots through the life of her maternal grandmother. Beautiful weaves the history of modern India/Pakistan, live of the women in those countries as well as the Bene Israel community - the Jewish people who have been in India for over 2000 years after their boat crashed on its shores. A wonderful book. ( )
  ellenuw | Jan 27, 2016 |
This book was everything it was said to be, compelling, poignant, a little sad, personal, touching, etc. Sadia's deep love for her grandmother takes her on a journey to discover her multi-cultural family's past after the death of her grandmother. I really give it to her family to be able to combine 3 religions & cultures in their home, & you could feel the love she wrote with in ever word.

This book taught me things I didn't know about both the Bene Israel's Judaism, as well as the Muslim faith. This is a book you can get lost in, & a book that you can connect to.... ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
Borrowed by a friend before I could finish it. Good thing I sneaked a peek at the ending first. I guess I don't really need to read the 75 pages in the middle that I missed. ( )
  paperloverevolution | Mar 30, 2013 |
The Girl from Foreign chronicles Sadia Shepard's journey of discovery to explore her heritage. She is the daughter of a Pakistani woman of Islamic faith and a white, Protestant from Colorado. Living with the family during Sadia's childhood and young adult-hood, was her cherished maternal grandmother. At age 13, Sadia discovers a pin that had belonged to a nurse named Rachel Jacobs. It turns out that Rachel was Sadia's grandmother's name before she married. Even more surprising was that her grandmother was not Muslim originally, but had been born, in India, into a Jewish family, one of the Bene Israel, a small group of Jews, shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago, who some believe may have been part of the lost tribes of Israel.

Sadia's story revolves around her year in India as a Fulbright scholar, as she explores, documents, and tries to discover her grandmother's story, and uncover her own.

One of the pieces I enjoyed the most was Sadia's time in Pune and Bombay, both places I have been. I also really liked learning more about the Bene Israel, as group of people I knew nothing about. ( )
  bookczuk | Feb 16, 2013 |
An interesting, if somewhat dry, memoir of Sadia Shephard's year in India and Pakistan tracking down the Bene Israel community to which her grandmother belonged.

I found the details of the Bene Israel community informative and intriguing -- this is a community of which I wasn't aware. Ms. Shepard narrative voice, however, is oddly detached and I found much of the pacing far too slow.

I never had a sense of precisely what it was Shepard hoped to discover -- facts of her family's past? Certainly. But what is that great 'something more' that lifts a book like this from a tepid graduate thesis to a universal symbol? I never found it, and although the back of the book declares her journey to be
'life-changing' I was not aware of any great transformation in the narrator. If the central narrative arc of a memoir is how the events contained therein contributed to the memoirist becoming who she ultimately became, then this work is thin gruel, no matter how exotic and colorful (to Westerners) the locale may be.

The most interesting passages, for me came towards the end of the book -- a section wherein she discovered her grandmother's recipes is particularly poignant, and perhaps that's due to the specificity of the moment. It's a lovely metaphor. I would have liked to see it, or something similar, used to greater effect throughout the work.

Still, as I said in the beginning -- although the book drags in sections, the premise is interesting, as are the facts of the Bene Israel community. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | May 10, 2012 |
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