"Saeed's timely and stirring middle-grade debut is a celebration of resistance and justice."Kirkus Reviews, starred review
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 whenas the eldest daughtershe 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 happensafter 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 Amalespecially 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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.90(d)|
|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
About the Author
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.
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "Amal Unbound"
Copyright © 2018 Aisha Saeed.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
*Disclaimer: This book is #OwnVoices for Pakistani representation, I urge you to seek out and read #OwnVoices reviews. This is such an important book and needs to be read. Amal has dreams of becoming a teacher, but things happen in her life that puts her education and learning on hold. This story is at times heartbreaking and heartwarming. Amal Unbound shows how important education is to young girls everywhere, and it really puts things in perspective how much we take education for granted in the United States. Please read this book!!
When I hear the words "indentured servant" I think of a youth or immigrant in colonial America, working seven years to learn a trade and work their way to freedom. In Amal Unbound, author Aisha Saeed shines a light on the hidden, present day, virtual enslavement of oppressed people, especially girls. Twelve -year-old Amal is the eldest child living in a present day Pakistani village. One day she is attending school, dreaming of becoming a teacher and the next she must stay home to take care of her family while her mother recovers from childbirth. Frustrated by having to care for her two younger sisters, Amal goes to the market alone, enjoying her temporary reprieve from constant care taking. She is nearly run over by the corrupt and ruthless overlord who rules the village with impossible financial demands. Amal could be killed, beaten, or forced to live and work in the overlord's household. Even as the car arrives to take her away, Amal and her family hold out hope that they will be able to raise the money to buy her freedom. Amal soon learns that she has little chance of leaving the situation and despair nearly overtakes her. She must learn to negotiate the complex social system of the house staff and barely escapes the overlord's wrath after being set up by another servant. Worse, the Kahn family kills those who stand in their way. Amal rises above her despair and risks all in a desperate plan to bring justice to her village and to win her freedom. The story of Amal Unbound is as stunning and compelling as the book's cover. According to Saeed, most indentured servitude does not end with freedom and this odious practice is a world-wide problem, but readers will cheer Amal's determination and fortitude. Perfect for a read aloud, book club, or gift for middle grade students and teachers.
Let me start by saying that Middle Grade is not my preferred category. I have picked up and DNF'ed several of them this year. I eventually gave up and accepted that maybe now I was too old to connect with the protagonists in these books. But Amal's story stole my heart. Her voice drew me into her life, her struggles, and her dreams and didn't let me go. I fell in love. This is an important story, and for such a short book, it packs quite the emotional punch. The ending did leave more to be desired, but the universal themes, family dynamics, and feelings of hope within these pages trump that. Extra points for the Pakistani village setting!
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!