• Sparks Like Stars

  • A Novel
  • By: Nadia Hashimi
  • Narrated by: Mozhan Marno
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (759 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Suspenseful…emotionally compelling. I found myself eagerly following in a way I hadn’t remembered for a long time, impatient for the next twist and turn of the story."—NPR

An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, The House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.

Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives. 

Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured. 

New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost. 

Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.

©2021 Nadia Hashimi (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Sparks Like Stars

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Amazing

I really enjoyed this book and was also saddened by the beauty lost by war. The story brings light and life to what Afghanistan was and could be again. It was very sweetly told and left this reader with a bit of closure and hope for what the future could bring these war ravaged human beings.

8 people found this helpful

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Capturing

Amazing, beautiful details, breathtaking story. I could not put it down. The narrator’s performance was one of my favorites.

5 people found this helpful

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Great Start

I loved this book when I first started it: a young girl in Afghanistan talking about the wisdom her parents shared. It was very beautifully written. However it jumps to her adulthood, and all the beauty of the writing and the wisdom disappears. Very disappointing.

4 people found this helpful

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amazing book

this is a very good book, great story and history. haven't found many good books lately but this one is definitely top of my list this year.

4 people found this helpful

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Hauntingly Beautiful

This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful stories I’ve read in a very long time. It’s a story about mothers and daughters; and grief and loss; and war and homecomings; and it's a story about finding a way to forgiveness for those who have hurt you and the ways you hurt yourself. I have nothing but high praise for the author @NadiaHashimi whose voice is so heartbreakingly poetic I will truly read anything she puts out. This #historicalfiction transports the reader to an Afghanistan most of us never even knew existed ~ an Afghanistan of opulence and beauty and history and riches and family and culture. The story begins in 1978 in a palace where children roam and play by day and where political dignitaries discuss the wolves of the East and West at the door by night behind closed doors. It is the story of a little girl who loses her entire family the night of the communist coup in #afghanistan and how her life is forever changed as well as that of #Kabul and the Afghan people. The author did such a brilliant job at creating empathy and heartbreak for all that has been lost in Afghanistan by telling it through the journey of this little girl, Sitara, who is rescued by an Afghan soldier and then adopted by a US embassy diplomat and eventually goes on to become a doctor in America. She is eventually reunited in a very unexpected way with the soldier and has to come to terms with what she believes was his role in murdering her entire family. Her story of loss and survival is so vivid and so poignant that you cannot help but grieve with her. The relationship between the emotionally wounded and well guarded protagonist and her ill equipped, but committed American, adopted mother bends the preconceived boundaries of motherhood as well as ideas on what makes a family and how a heart can love. It is also a story of courage and redemption. And it is a story that is as timely now as it has ever been with the Taliban regaining ground as the US begins it's exit after almost two decades there. Powerful and compelling. I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed.

3 people found this helpful

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Thank goodness it's over

Read for book club, and was excited to learn about Afghanistan. The book is not well written,
story line uneven. There was no point if the boyfriend Adam in the book. The main character was unlikeable. although she was supposed to evoke sympathy. It was unbelievable that an accomplished physician would not have worked through the horrors of her early years.
I did learn a bit about Afghanistan but not alot.
Narration was fine.

2 people found this helpful

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Love it

I loved learning more about Afghanistan and its modern history wrapped up in a story about a young girl. I thought it was so interesting that Kabal was considered a great assignment when working in the US diplomatic services before 1978. It also made me sad to learn how Afghanistan became a pawn between the US and Russia in the Cold War and hope that it’s current fledging democracy will carry on. Great book, great story. Would recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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Hashimi (unwittingly) strikes (at my privilege) again.

I met Nadia Hashimi at the Festival of Authors (sponsored by Literary Women in Long Beach, CA) after she published “When the Moon is Low.” I had not yet fallen in love with her, as I’d arrived at the event unaware of how helpful it is to have read the authors’ works prior to hearing them speak. So it was wide-eyed admiration for her that propelled me into her work after that presentation about her life as a person of Afghan descent who can help people with both her M.D. and her word processor.

Ultimately, I’ve come to see that Hashimi-the-writer is as interesting as Hashimi-the-speaker and also as approachable. I took a photo of her talking with some teenagers that day - she was as engaged with them as she would have been with any dear friend, i observed. And her novels, works of historical fiction about a place and a culture far from American life, feel warm and familiar because she taps into the similarities and draws us to the commonness of family bonds, child-like appreciation for the wonders of memories and even the power of foods.

This tale of a woman flung into the void at a young age drops us into not so distant history and pops us into even more recent history and helps us know a little more than we could easily learn on our own. I appreciate all the poetic turns of phrase and the ruminating on beauty and the chance to grasp bits of the importance of events outside my tiny world view. But even more, I am grateful for the way the story is told because I know I am silly lucky. I’m accidentally fortunate in ways that have little to do with my own effort and I appreciate that these books of Hashimi’s never impose any judgement nor linger on the sordid, but rather feel like a friend telling a story over a cup of tea.

1 person found this helpful

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Outstanding!

I was quickly lost in the story’s search for history and meaning, and the narrator’s voices made this outstanding in audio. My favorite book of the year!

1 person found this helpful

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complex Afghanistan

powerful story of the complexities of the nation that is Afghanistan and the traumas children must negotiate who grow up as refuges.

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  • Christineb
  • 05-22-21

Overall a good story

The first part of the book was very compelling and interesting The characters where good and l was totally engaged it was only the final part that lacked a bit of story The narration was good but the voice was a bit emotionless and bland otherwise a good novel

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  • Lojo
  • 03-14-21

Beautifully written

I became consumed by the journey and lulled by the voice. So discriptive I could imagine places I'd never been. Made me want to find out about the history.