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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Girls Burn Brighter

Girls Burn Brighter

A Novel

Shobha Rao

Flatiron Books

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“Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” —Vogue

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” —The Huffington Post

A searing, electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.

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.

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Poornima never once noticed the door of the temple. Neither did Savitha. But the temple watched them closely, perched as it was on the mountain that towered over Indravalli. The village itself was near the banks of the Krishna River,...

Praise for Girls Burn Brighter

A LibraryReads Selection

A Most Anticipated Book of 2018 (Goodreads, Bustle, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, BookRiot, PopSugar, The Chicago Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” —Vogue

“A definite must-read for readers who love authors like Nadia Hashimi and Khaled Hosseini.” —Bustle

“An unbelievably beautiful and harrowing story of friendship and devotion.” —BookRiot

“Magnificent and heart-wrenching…. Readers of Rao’s vital, vibrant novel will not soon forget these two strong, driven young women.” —BookPage

“A beautiful testament to female friendship.” —PopSugar

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” —The Huffington Post

“This debut novel is the perfect read for fans of Rupi Kaur.” —Brit + Co

“Rao layers her debut novel with issues that face many young women worldwide, from street harassment and domestic abuse to oppressive societal norms.” —Ms. Magazine

“A confident debut novel set in India and America about the unbreakable bond between two girls. From the menacing nooks of India's underworld to the streets of Seattle, this searing novel traces the nuances of adulthood and the enduring power of childhood bonds.” The Chicago Review of Books

“Enchanting… The resplendent prose captures the nuances and… More…





A LibraryReads Selection

A Most Anticipated Book of 2018 (Goodreads, Bustle, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, BookRiot, PopSugar, The Chicago Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” —Vogue

“A definite must-read for readers who love authors like Nadia Hashimi and Khaled Hosseini.” —Bustle

“An unbelievably beautiful and harrowing story of friendship and devotion.” —BookRiot

“Magnificent and heart-wrenching…. Readers of Rao’s vital, vibrant novel will not soon forget these two strong, driven young women.” —BookPage

“A beautiful testament to female friendship.” —PopSugar

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” —The Huffington Post

“This debut novel is the perfect read for fans of Rupi Kaur.” —Brit + Co

“Rao layers her debut novel with issues that face many young women worldwide, from street harassment and domestic abuse to oppressive societal norms.” —Ms. Magazine

“A confident debut novel set in India and America about the unbreakable bond between two girls. From the menacing nooks of India's underworld to the streets of Seattle, this searing novel traces the nuances of adulthood and the enduring power of childhood bonds.” The Chicago Review of Books

“Enchanting… The resplendent prose captures the nuances and intensity of two best friends on the brink of an uncertain and precarious adulthood… An incisive study of a friendship’s unbreakable bond.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This powerful, heart-wrenching novel and its two unforgettable heroines offer an extraordinary example of the strength that can be summoned in even the most terrible situations.” Booklist, starred review

“Highly recommended for book discussion groups, this tale of sacrifice, exploitation, and reclamation is not to be missed.” Library Journal, starred review

“Stirring…affecting…The narrative’s thematic consistency and emotional urgency will pull readers along.” —Publishers Weekly

“This novel burnt up my weekend. With beautiful language, warm friendships, and vivid images, once I started reading I could not stop. It’s a story of struggle and survival. Female friendship is the lifeline.” —Claire Cameron, author of The Bear and The Last Neanderthal

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao blew my heart up. Heart-shards everywhere. I am in awe of the warmth and humanity in this book, even as it explores some incredibly dark places. I’m going to be thinking about Girls Burn Brighter for a while, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about it.” —Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

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Reviews from Goodreads

Shobha Rao

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.

image of Shobha Raoo
© Carlos Avila Gonzalez

Shobha Rao