I’m really not sure about this one. I think I’m going to have to stop reading books with which I have personal experience (at least for a bit). It seems to me that when I read such books, I often give them a Leave It rating because it doesn’t fit in with my own experiences. My review and rating of A Sister to Honor is going to continue that pattern.
A Sister to Honor is about a Pashtun sister and brother who come to the US to go to school (which is super common; I have a cousin here for that reason). In case you don’t know what Pashtun is, you can read about it on Wikipedia, but the super short explanation is that it’s an ancient tribal way of life (ridiculously conservative and strict). The thing is that even with the brother and sister (Shahid and Afia) in the US, the Pashtun rules still apply (at least as far as their family is concerned, back in Pakistan). A Sister to Honor is about the consequences when Afia falls in love with an American boy.
Here’s the thing. As far as I know (which is very little), the idea of A Sister to Honor is realistic. And while I don’t agree with the Pashtun way of looking at things, I understand their concepts of honor (it’s somewhat similar to the idea of women being “ruined” in the nineteenth century and earlier in the US and other western countries). I guess what bothers me about A Sister to Honor is that is seems so believable. In some ways that’s a really good thing. But in today’s political climate, I just plain don’t like it. I’m half Persian. My dad was a first-generation immigrant from before the Iranian Revolution, and I’ve been living with anti-Middle Eastern prejudice since the first Gulf War. I know I’m not the only one. And with the whole ISIS nightmare, the prejudice is only getting worse.
That’s why I’m not recommending A Sister to Honor. While it’s a good book, I just can’t bring myself to recommend a book that will serve to justify (for lack of a better word) the prejudices against Middle Eastern people. Don’t get me wrong. A Sister to Honor is very respectful and doesn’t make all Pashtuns look like evil psychopaths (just one such character is in the story), it’s just that as of right now, any excuse for hate is just not something I can encourage.
[Update: Lucy commented that there were a couple of errors in my original review. I corrected where I had said Afia was from Afghanistan. She is actually from Pakistan. The other error, where I mention this book potentially reinforcing prejudice about the Middle East, is not an error. I understand that Pakistan is not the Middle East. My point is that many other people do not.]