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.
This was a wonderful middle grade novel that I found had a lot of depth that I wasn’t quite expecting with that beautiful, light cover. It’s certainly a middle grade novel that packs a punch, and I definitely think it’s an important book that should be a must for middle graders everywhere.
I loved Amal as a heroine. She was fierce, strong yet showed vulnerability. She is a wonderful heroine that I desperately wanted to root for. Her voice was wonderful, and I loved reading her journey. She is definitely an inspirational heroine that fights for what she wants: her freedom, her love of learning, and her dreams.
Saeed’s writing was very excellent as well. She did a wonderful job with setting and I found myself feeling like I was dropped right into Amal’s world. Her writing style was nice as well, and she really had me captivated in the world.
The only real issue I had was that I felt like the pacing was a bit off. This story is less than 300 pages but we had huge obstacles to overcome. I felt like a lot of things were surface level and we grazed along without a lot of depth. I wanted more from Amal and the cast of characters. I really didn’t get much from her supposed best friends. I think more depth in learning about her life would have really made this perfect.
I delayed on my review for a few days and honestly, it took a lot of my memory and feelings for the book. It was a good read and created important discussions on topics that need to be shown a light. The narrator was great as well as Saeed’s writing style. It just went by a little too fast so it lacked the depth that could have made this truly fantastic. Overall, it was a good read, and I definitely think a very important middle grade novel. 4 crowns and an Ariel rating!
What do you think? What are some of your recommendations for middle grade? Does delaying your review a few days cause issues? Let’s discuss in the comments below!