Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
(Nancy Paulsen Books ~ May 8, 2018)
The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.
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.
And a review from our fabulous reviewer Laura Gardner ~ @librarianmsg on Instagram
What. A. Powerful. Book!!! I’m so excited this has been chosen for the Global Read Aloud for 2018. I can’t wait to read it with my students and get into deep discussions about the value of education, the way that women have been historically oppressed around the world, the ongoing problem of indentured servitude and the power of the written word. That’s alllllll in here and much more. Also I’ve been drooling over that cover on social media for a while so it was pretty awesome to hold it in my hands. Drool. This book is great for grades 5+ and it’s perfect to read aloud. Who else is excited for #gra18!? This past year was my first year and now I’m hooked!
And another review from Laurie Evans ~ @laurieslibrary on Instagram
Do you have a dream of what you want to be when you grow up? Amal sure did… she wanted to become a teacher. Has something happened to make that dream seem like it will never happen? That is exactly what happened to Amal. Amal lives in Pakistan and she loves going to school. She wants to be just like her teacher, Miss Sadia.
Things seem to be on track for her until her mom has her fifth child, another girl, and she goes into a deep depression. Since Amal is the oldest child she has to quit going to school to help take care of the baby and the household. She thinks this is unfair but her father reminds her that life is unfair. Amal doesn’t have a choice but to do what her mom should be doing. After a month of taking care of three younger sisters, taking care of the house, doing all of the shopping, and having to skip school has made Amal a little snippy.
One day she decides to just go to the market by herself so that she can have a break from it all. As she is walking through the market a large black car hits her and the man that gets out is not nice and tries to take away her only pomegranate. She is already in a bad mood so she snaps at him and refuses to give him the pomegranate. Little does Amal know that this is Jawad Sahib, the evil son of Khan Sahib, who owns almost everyone and everything in the village.
Amal has no choice but to work off her indiscretion at Jawad’s mansion. She is now taken from her family and forced to work as a servant. Will Amal ever get to see her friends and family again? Will she ever get to go home or is her dream of becoming a teacher gone because she is forced to work as a servant for the rest of her life?
Amal Unbound is one of the best books I have read! Aisha Saeed does a fantastic job of turning the reader into the main character so that we feel her happiness, her excitement, her pain, and her dejection. This is a book that you will not be able to put down once you start. This book will also make a great read-aloud and prompt great classroom discussion.
Aisha Saeed also wrote Written in the Stars, and is a Pakistani-American writer, teacher, and attorney. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel. As one of the founding members of the much talked about We Need Diverse Books Campaign, she is helping change the conversation about diverse books. Aisha lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and sons.
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