August 8, 2018

Women on Wed - Book Review: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

A few Wednesdays a month I like to feature books that show the strength and diversity of women.  These may be works of fiction or nonfiction.
Today I have a book review.

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Copy Obtained: Bought

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Short Version: A wonderful story that teaches the reader not only about the Pakistani culture but also about the power of hope, dreams, and inner strength. 

Long Version: I had been hearing a lot about this book, so I knew I needed to read it.  I knew that it would teach me things about a culture and country I didn't know a lot about.  And I knew that was very important.  But I also knew it would demonstrate the commonality of fighting for what is right.  Right away I felt connected with Amal because she wanted to be a teacher. I'm a teacher, so I understand her desire to want to teach others.  Then I felt for her when she felt that dream slipping away.  It was upsetting to know she might lose that dream because of what was expected of her since she was the oldest.  You could feel her conflict.  She knew she needed to help her family, but she wanted to continue her education.  I loved how dedicated she was that she even kept trying to keep up with her studies even when she couldn't go to school AND how her friends/sister helped her.   My stomach fell through when her frustrations boil over and she angers the wrong person.  It was through this series of events that I really gained an understanding of how her culture and country were different from what I grew up in.  The idea that one man had that much control in her town was something I didn't know.  I felt for her because now she was stuck all because she angered one person.  

Once she starts living at the Khan estate I learned even more about how things worked for her.  I felt the deep sadness she felt.  But as the story goes along I loved watching her grow strength in ways she didn't know she had.  And when she fully uses that strength I felt so proud of her! It was so great to see her stand up like that. 

The story wraps up nicely.  I felt satisfied and confident that Amal would find success in whatever she did. 

Best stick-with-you image: All the description of the food! I looked up most of it, and it all sounded so good! 

Best for readers who: Want to see a young girl learn the strength that lies within her.  And who want to learn about something they may not know.  

Library Thoughts: 100% yes I will put this in the library.  It's a universal story - learning to stand up for yourself! 

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