Review by Booklist Review
Pakistani Amal loves going to school and looks forward to becoming a teacher in the future. She only becomes aware of nuances in gender roles and the lack of opportunities afforded to girls after her father tells her that she must take care of the household while her mother recovers from childbirth. Amal hopes to continue her schooling once her mother is well, but that goal drifts further away when an accidental encounter lands her in a humongous heap of trouble. In order to spare her family from incurring further wrath and unfair consequences, Amal becomes an indentured servant to the odious Khan family. Readers will find that a little perseverance and a heart filled with hope can eventually surmount a harsh reality. Saeed fills her prose with lush descriptions of Pakistani life, while still managing to connect with readers whose surroundings and experiences will be starkly different. Hand to any reader who struggles with definitive gender roles, norms, and expectations held in place by societal structures.--Bratt, Jessica Anne Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Ayyar gives an uneven performance of Saeed's middle grade novel about the underworld of indentured servitude in contemporary Pakistan. When 12-year-old Amal publicly defies the scion of the powerful Khan family, the Khans call in her father's debt and force Amal to work as their servant. While in their household, she discovers evidence that the Khans have engaged in illegal activities and forges alliances with other servants in the household to expose them. Ayyar's performance is most captivating when she is narrating Amal's inner monologue; her treble voice is quite believable as that of a child maturing into a woman. The problem is that many of the characters-whether they are adults or children, male or female-sound this way, too. When Amal's parents have a heated discussion about Amal's future, for example, it's impossible to tell which of them is speaking unless the dialogue makes that clear; later in the book, the Khans' chauffeur and housekeeper sound indistinguishable from each other and from the local teacher who helps to broaden Amal's world. The lack of differentiation is a major drawback and makes this production more confusing than it needs to be. Ages 10-up. A Penguin/Paulsen hardcover. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-Amal doesn't think she is brave. She's just a girl in a Pakistani village who loves to read and teach reading. As a 12-year-old girl, she is expected to stop focusing on her education and start learning her role as a woman in her village. Sulking after a trip to the market, she is justifiably rude to a man who almost ran her over. Unbeknownst to Amal, this was Jawad Sahib, son to Khan Sahib, ruler of her village. To repay her "debt," her father allows her to become a servant to the Khans for an undetermined amount of time. As a servant, Amal begins to learn secrets of the Khan family; secrets that could possibly be her chance at freedom. Priya Ayyar is a natural narrator for the voice of Amal. Listeners can feel Amal's struggle with her expected gender role and new life of servitude. The author's note includes a brief shout-out to Malala Yousafzai. VERDICT An engaging and heartfelt listen. Perfect for book discussions and classrooms.-Amanda Schiavulli, Liverpool Public Library, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Twelve-year-old Amal lives with her family in a village in Punjab, Pakistan. When she accidentally insults Jawad Sahib, a member of the villages ruling Khan family, he demands that her father repay his debts, which forces Amal into indentured servitudean experience that ultimately leads Amal to challenge the status quo. With a vocal inflection that ranges from Amals earnestness to the Khan familys aristocratic-sounding, Hindi-inflected accent, including Jawad Sahibs barely controlled disdain, the narrator presents scenes of domestic life as compelling events that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. julie hakim azzam March/April 2019 p 110(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A Pakistani girl's dreams of an education dissolve when she is forced into indentured servitude.Bookish Amal, who lives in a small village in Punjab, Pakistan, dreams of becoming a teacher and a poet. When she inadvertently insults Jawad, the son of her village's wealthy and influential, but corrupt, landlord, Khan Sahib, she is forced into indentured servitude with his family. Jawad assures Amal's father that she will be "treated like all my servants, no better, no worse" and promises him that he will "let her visit twice a year like the others." Once in her enslaver's home, Amal is subject to Jawad's taunts, which are somewhat mitigated by the kind words of his mother, Nasreen Baji, whose servant she becomes. Amal keeps her spirits up by reading poetry books that she surreptitiously sneaks from the estate library and teaching the other servant girls how to read and write. Amal ultimately finds a friend in the village's literacy centerfunded, ironically enough, by the Khan familywhere she befriends the U.S.-educated teacher, Asif, and learns that the powerful aren't invincible. Amal narrates, her passion for learning, love for her family, and despair at her circumstance evoked with sympathy and clarity, as is the setting.Inspired by Malala Yousafzai and countless unknown girls like her, Saeed's timely and stirring middle-grade debut is a celebration of resistance and justice. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.