Ramadan Mubarak to all celebrating! I’m happy to be participating in the Ramadan Readathon once again. I read several books by Muslim authors last year during the Ramadan Readathon hosted by Nadia at Headscarves and Hardbacks. This year I’m reading again and am glad to be part of the blog tour also. There are four books on my #RamadanReadathon TBR including Amal Unbound. I’ve been very eager to read this one and it did not disappoint.Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Availability: On shelves now
Review copy: Purchased
Summary: 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.
Review: Amal Unbound is a gorgeous story in spite of the ugliness of the circumstances. Amal’s dream of being a teacher is crushed in mere moments and it’s hard for her to maintain hope in the face of this blow. When Amal initially enters into indentured servitude she’s shocked and dismayed, but she believes it is only temporary. Once she realizes that her family may never get out of debt, she begins to accept that her life has forever been changed and she may remain in servitude forever. This is when her hope fades.
Amal’s father has said more than once that life is not fair. Amal comes face to face with this reality over and over again. The beauty of this book is that Amal shows strength, courage, and wisdom as she adjusts to her new life and looks for ways to survive and even grow. She blooms where she is planted. This is the exact moment to look at the cover illustration. It manages to show the blooming, struggles, and hope.
In the author’s note, Saeed explains that there are many girls around the world doing brave things we never hear about. She hopes this book shines a light on brave girls everywhere. I believe it could be inspirational for anyone. It’s a book that encourages readers to do what they can to make the world a better place whether in big or small ways even if it’s a little scary.
Recommendation: Buy it now. Amal is someone you will want to meet. She will touch your heart and maybe even inspire you to improve your corner of the world.
Our interview with Aisha Saeed
If you want to get your hands on a copy of Amal Unbound, take a moment to enter our giveaway:
Be sure to visit more of the stops on the Ramadan Readathon Blog Tour. You may follow @MuslimReadathon for updates and use the tag #RamadanReadathon to share your reading and/or recommendations.