Rahela Nayebzadah captures the inner struggles of three teenagers growing up as Afghan Muslims in a foreign country. Beh, the youngest of the three, sees herself as a disease and believes the world and its troubles come down only on her, not knowing that her brother Alif and sister Shabnam each feel the same.
The struggles for survival and acceptance of these teenagers in an unfamiliar environment where racism abounds are laid out through the novel in an expert way, letting us feel their suffering. At the same time, each character is hiding secrets from the others.
Lack of trust and the strict Muslim rule not to report family violence to authorities make it impossible for these siblings to communicate openly about bigger problems. One sister bleeds at the hands of her family, another cries the red tears of pearl, and their brother is confused about his own blood. Will their muted cries for help be heard or are we all the monsters of the world?
This book shows how important communication is, especially within a family. It would have made life more bearable for these children, particularly in a place filled with racism where they struggle to survive as colored immigrants. No matter what your religion demands, family violence and sexual assault are wrong and should be reported.
Nayebzadah captures each one of the three teenagers’ feelings about life very well, but still the book was a bit confusing—like reading three separate stories in one book. However, the author brings the individual stories together as one in the end, as the three finally stand together as siblings.