One Half from the East

by Nadia Hashimi

After Obayda’s family moves from Kabul to the village where her father grew... read more

After Obayda’s family moves from Kabul to the village where her father grew up, the 10-year-old, youngest of three girls, becomes a bacha posh— a girl who passes as a boy. Obayda, now Obayd, is initially reluctant. She likes being a girl, and doesn’t know how to move through the world with a boy’s swagger and certainty. Befriended by Rashid, an older bacha posh, Obayd soon is relishing the freedoms and privilege her older sisters do not enjoy, even in their progressive family. Obayd does things as a boy she never would have considered before, discovering a different kind of action and agency as she tries to help her father recover from injuries he suffered in a Kabul explosion. But there is nothing she can do to help Rashid(a) when her friend’s time as a bacha posh ends abruptly in marriage to the village war lord. A fascinating, swiftly paced story firmly grounded in Obayd(a)’s perspective and experience makes clear gender has nothing to do with her physical or intellectual ability, only with how those abilities are perceived in a society where males are privileged. Throughout, Obayda’s voice feels childlike and true. An author’s note provides additional information about bacha posh. (Ages 9–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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