One Half from the East
Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia, Thanhha Lai, and Rebecca Stead, internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is a coming-of-age journey set in modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.
Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune, and her aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of four sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.
Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. Their transformation won’t last forever, though—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.
Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for adults, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, was a bestseller that shares a bacha posh character with One Half from the East.
Gr 4–8—After Obayda's policeman father loses a leg in a car bombing in Kabul, her family moves to a rural village to be near their extended relatives. When her father retreats from life because of his injury, an aunt suggests that the girl be allowed to be a bacha posh and live as a boy. Obayda would have a better education and more opportunities, and the presence of a boy would bring luck, and perhaps a baby brother, to the family. "Obayd" struggles at first, but once she makes friends with Rahima (another bacha posh), she gains confidence and enjoys her new life. Their joy is short-lived. When Rahima is married off to a local warlord at the age of 13, Obayda makes a desperate attempt to keep her freedom. Told in clear, vivid prose that combines detailed descriptions of daily life with a good dose of adventure, this story has more information about bacha posh than Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner and is a welcome addition to books about Afghanistan such as Trent Reedy's Words in the Dust and Andrew Clements's Extra Credit. The depiction of a country and family in turmoil is realistically handled, and Obayda's father does recuperate from his injuries with her help. VERDICT This is an excellent title that will offer students a window into life in Afghanistan and open interesting, age-appropriate conversations about gender expectations and roles in different countries.—Karen Yingling, Blendon Middle School, Westerville, OH
Age: 8-12 years
Number of Pages: 272
Publisher: Harper Collins (September 6, 2016)
Author: Nadia Hashimi
Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches