HOUSE OF GLASS HEARTS

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When they were both children, Maera’s older brother, Asad, vanished overnight in their grandfather’s greenhouse during a family trip to Karachi. Ten years later, the Pakistani American teen—now a rising senior in high school—discovers her recently deceased grandfather’s diary under her pillow along with the astonishing sudden appearance of his greenhouse in her backyard in Virginia. To Maera’s frustration, her mother does not find the latter remarkable, insisting it’s always been there, and neither does her aunt, who arrives with Maera’s cousin Jimmy to settle the will. Jimmy, who can read Urdu, tries to find answers in the diary, which contains family history they’d never been told. Meanwhile, Maera enlists her friend Sara and neighbor Rob, who was Asad’s best friend, to help investigate. When all four enter the greenhouse, they discover a lush jungle, find a clue to Asad’s whereabouts, and encounter a demon spirit. The novel alternates between past and present, with scenes from Maera’s grandfather’s youth during World War II and the Partition offering clues to the greenhouse’s true nature. While the teenagers’ dialogue feels too young and the present-day storyline moves slowly, the historical elements are emotionally rich and impactful. Though some questions are never fully answered, the grief that permeates the story ultimately resolves into peaceful acceptance.

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