Girls Burn Brighter

Girls Burn Brighter is a testament to the strength of female friendship in the face of unimaginable trauma. The small Indian village of Indravalli has offered few comforts to young Poornima, who's been left under the command of her abusive father after the death of her mother. Her friendship with the brilliant, resilient Savitha is the only hope Poornima has for happiness in the future, particularly after she is betrothed to marry a man with a grudge against the world. But after a horrifying act of violence, Savitha is forced to run away if she wants to survive, leaving Poornima to spend her years searching for the friend who made life worth living.

Shobha Rao astounds in her debut novel, following the publication of her short story collection, An Unrestored Woman--not just with stunning prose, but with mastery of pacing, too. In Rao's hands the heavy, unrelenting subject matter, which might otherwise have been shattering for its raw honesty, is fluid and propulsive. While she manages to keep the tension mounting in a plot moving ever toward the seemingly unreachable reunion of the two heroines, Rao maintains the emotional intensity of her story and its thematic resonances. Over the course of its brutal and blazing trajectory, the novel never loses sight of the two strong, sensitive souls at its center, leaving the reader breathless in the presence of their power. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

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