A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again
Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls.
After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match.
So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage.
But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.
Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.
Shobha Rao moved to the United States from India at the age of seven. She is the author of the short story collection An Unrestored Woman. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by T. C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She lives in San Francisco.