Author: Amjed Qamar
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Published Date: June 17th 2008 by
Genre: Realistic Fiction, YA
Page Count: 198
My Rating: ★ ★ ★
"Our lives will always be in the hands of our mothers, whether we like it or not."
Nazia doesn't mind when her friends tease and call her a good beti, a dutiful daughter. Growing up in a working-class family in Karachi, Pakistan, Nazia knows that obedience is the least she can give to her mother, who has spent years saving and preparing for her dowry. But every daughter must grow up, and for fourteen-year-old Nazia that day arrives suddenly when her father gets into an accident at work, and her family finds themselves without money for rent or food.
Being the beti that she is, Nazia drops out of school to help her mother clean houses, all the while wondering when she managed to lose control of her life that had been full of friends and school. Working as a maid is a shameful obligation that could be detrimental to her future -- after all, no one wants a housekeeper for a daughter-in-law. As Nazia finds herself growing up much too quickly, the lessons of hardship that seem unbearable turn out to be a lot more liberating than she ever imagined.
"Sometimes I wonder. You are the perfect daughter, but your will is strong. Sometimes, I think, stronger than mine."
Nazia is a young girl who just wants to learn, and make her own career path. But her mother has a different plan for her, one that involves getting married, and doing what her husband says.
Very early on we see Nazia’s family start falling apart due to her father’s choices, and soon thereafter her own to be marriage might fall apart as well.
When her mother pulls her out of school so he can work with her in order to make money for the family to survive. Nazia starts questing what is going on, and if the choices her mother is making for her and the rest of the family are the right ones. We see her learn things as she is working, and she see what life might be like if she isn’t able to get the education she wants. We also see why her mother has had to make such hard choices, and how she really did have the best interest at heart, but was trying to choose the path for her daughter that she felt to be accepted more in their society.
In the end though, it does end somewhat happy, we see that her mother had known certain things all along that Nazia had been keeping secret, and that even though she seemed like she was just trying to force something onto her, she was also trying to prepare herself for the path her daughter would most likely take.
I found this book really interesting, and nice start into trying to understand other cultures and how they work. If you’re wanting to start learning about other cultures then I would say read this book, it’s not very long and it does show a lot of different things, as well as why they are done.
"I knew this would come, I'd hoped and prayed it would not. But of course Allah's will rules over mine. He made you strong willed for a reason. He gave you thoughts that are usually reserved for men. He gave you wisdom that others were denied. Who knows why? We cannot fight it or deny it anymore, now, can we?"