House of Glass Hearts is a book that consistently surprised me. With every chapter, I ended up finding more to discover in the book. This fantasy which blends historical fiction discusses colonization and Partition. And these chapters ended up being my favorite. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Maera and her ammi never talk about the Past, a place where they’ve banished their family’s heartache and grief forever. They especially never mention the night Maera’s older brother Asad disappeared from her naana’s house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather’s past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family’s secrets-the monsters that live inside her grandfather’s mysterious house of glass.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
House of Glass Hearts begins with a story about trying to find a lost sibling. With the emergence of a greenhouse one day, it sets into motion a series of actions which uncover the past. In Maera’s house, one does not speak of the past. Throughout House of Glass Hearts, Siddiqui illustrates the danger of trying to silence the past. This theme exploration was one of my favorite parts of House of Glass Hearts. The past seems to literally come back. Using it as a symbol, the historical fiction story line takes on new meaning.
In chapters of her grandfather’s diary, he tells us the story of India right after independence, during WWII, and the Partition. These chapters and the way they connect to the present, illustrates the echoes of trauma that continue to haunt us even if we try to bury it. By telling this story in parallel story lines, House of Glass Hearts masterfully shows how the past influences the present (and the future). However, the story line in the present, Maera’s story was where I had a bit of trouble.
The amount of characters in the present made it difficult to connect with them. Additionally, I felt like we spent less time in the present – than the past – and so these chapters didn’t have as much impact as I was hoping. I not only found it difficult to remember how they were all connected, but without as many experiences weaving them together, I also couldn’t truly connect.
While I certainly enjoyed the chapters of the grandfather the most, the ending was such a rush! It wove together the pieces that I was looking for and solidified the importance of our past. These hidden pieces of our family trauma which is unknowingly passed down, even if we treat its absence like a void of silence. We can’t run from the past. We have to acknowledge it to see the future, to see the flawed nature of family and people. And we have to live with our loss, not bury it.
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