I have very conflicted feelings about Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao.
Girls Burn Brighter tells the story of two young girls from India and the friendship they have. Poornima’s mother has died and needing more help to work the sari loom her father hires Savaitha. The girls quickly form a bond until they are devastatingly separated. Both girls go through terrible events as Poornima seeks to be reunited with Savaitha.
While this is a story about friendship it also deals with domestic abuse, human trafficking, and sexual abuse. Terrible things happen to these girls and I wanted to feel such empathy for them but despite the awful things happening I didn’t. I’m not sure why that is. I guess I just didn’t feel really invested in the characters. They didn’t seem to feel devastated by what was happening and so I also didn’t. I also found it discouraging that it was more important for them to find each other then to get away from being abused.
There are no strong male characters in this book. In fact if I remember correctly every male in the book is depicted as weak and only seeing women as sexual objects. I’m sure that this is unfortunately very true for to many girls but I guess I feel there is so much focus lately on the weakness of many men, that it is also important for our society to show examples of men who see women as not just sexual objects. I realize this was not the purpose that Rao was going for but with every single male abusing someone it became annoying to me and I started to expect it. I don’t think women should expect men to see them only as sexual objects.
I think Girls Burn Brighter had a lot of potential and had important things to talk about but I didn’t feel that these important issues had any good solutions and not really any good jumping off points for the reader to discuss solutions.
I’m curious if you have read Girls Burn Brighter and your thoughts.
My copy of Girls Burn Brighter was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!