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Amal Unbound

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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.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published May 8, 2018

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Aisha Saeed

20 books1,119 followers

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5 stars
6,179 (38%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,480 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,785 reviews43k followers
June 18, 2021
I have read 1,201 books, and I have written 1,001 reviews in some form, and I have written 827 full reviews, and today I'm going to do something I've never done before:

I'm going to reuse one.

Take this review (which I wrote an hour ago) and count it toward this one, too.

Except I liked this one a touch and a tad more. So use that as a lens when you read it.

Bottom line: I am in shambles!

------------
pre-review

if i finish this book today, i'll have read a book for every day of the month.

let's DO THIS.

update: I FEEL LIKE THE NERD CHAMPION.

review to come / 3.5 stars

------------

taking lily's idea and reading only books by asian authors this month!

book 1: the incendiaries
book 2: last night at the telegraph club
book 3: dear girls
book 4: sigh, gone
book 5: frankly in love
book 6: emergency contact
book 7: your house will pay
book 8: convenience store woman
book 9: on earth we're briefly gorgeous
book 10: we are not free
book 11: searching for sylvie lee
book 12: the displaced
book 13: schoolgirl
book 14: sweet bean paste
book 15: little fires everywhere
book 16: trust exercise
book 17: front desk
book 18: the bride test
book 19: interior chinatown
book 20: it's not like it's a secret
book 21: almost american girl
book 22: never let me go
book 23: prairie lotus
book 24: earthlings
book 25: a pho love story
book 26: love, hate & other filters
book 27: the best we could do
book 28: all you can ever know
book 29: amal unbound

(i also finished 2 genius project installments this month, which would make this total 31)
Profile Image for Kelli.
844 reviews389 followers
January 8, 2019
This middle grade story shines a light on so many issues that are worlds away from life in our cozy little suburb. The focus on education (and what others go through to have the privilege of attending a class) was fodder for some important conversations in my house. The strong, intelligent female main character was well drawn and seemed, as required by circumstance, older and wiser than her years. My daughter is a bit of a reluctant reader. She was challenged with the names throughout the story and never stopped stumbling over/mispronouncing them, but she loved this story (5 stars/new favorite)and that is really saying something. Also, I was surprised to find tears slipping down my cheeks at the end. A solid 4 star middle grade.

*Read aloud to me by my daughter.
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
459 reviews72 followers
May 17, 2021
داستان دختری پاکستانی بود که به درس خواندن و کتاب علاقه‌ی زیادی دارد و قصد دارد در آینده معلم شود ولی فقر خانواده‌ش باعث می‌شود که اودر منزل خان روستایشان مشغول به کار شود و از ادامه‌ی تحصیل بازماند.
امیدوارم در هیچ‌جای دنیا شاهد از تحصیل بازماندن دختران نباشیم ولی با اتفاقاتی که اخیرا در افغانستان افتاده راه زیادی مانده تا این محقق شود، افسوس!
Profile Image for Zainab.
365 reviews466 followers
November 30, 2018
Finally! A book that's set in Pakistan! I got real excited when I got my hands on this one. I just wish there were a bit more details of Pakistan but since that's not the main topic, it's quite understandable.
It's quite a short, fun read so I really recommend it.
Just look at the cover. It's so pretty.
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,134 reviews763 followers
November 13, 2018
The book cover is a piece of art, and this book is written for a younger audience, like kids between 9 and 13. I think Aisha Saeed's books should be put into every school curriculum.

In Pakistan, Amal holds on to her dream of being a teacher even after becoming an indentured servant to pay off her family's debt to the wealthy and corrupt Khan family.

The book as the previous one Aisha Saeed wrote burned me. I felt angry and I wanted to enter the book and save Amal from the tyrant monster who made her a slave (I felt that Khan dude to be much older but he was in his early twenties). Amal's name in Arabic means Hope الأمل... and I think it's such a suitable name, she hopes for a better future for herself and others and hopes to change the injustice in her village.



On the other hand I believe that some things are disguised as bad things might be good things in the long run. In the beginning of the book Amal was treated like an unpaid maid to her family, they depended on her too much while she is a child as well and her father didn't care about her education. She only imagined herself as the woman she respected the most, her teacher in school. That's what she wanted to be.

When she moved to the Khan estate she saw a different sides to the same story, she might have come by force, but many others loved staying and working in that house. She had the opportunity to be exposed to both a different lifestyle and education both with different people and books. The books she read wouldn't have been available to her in her house or school. Amal might have felt she lost something by what happened to her, but maybe she gained more than anyone else in her small town. She saw for herself how rich people lived, she learned different things, like how to be strong on her own, and most importantly that people even the ones you loved more than anything could move on and forget you. That she is stronger and braver than her parents. Her father was obviously planning on stopping her education, so maybe what happened benefited her in the long run, her father felt ashamed and indebted to her, she gained her freedom in her imprisonment.



The book ends in an open way, I think Amal could be anything she wants, not just a teacher, I think she is the one who is going to succeed between ALL of her friends and neighbors, she might even travel and see the world someday. This girl is a fighter!
Profile Image for KalynAbridged.
71 reviews2,269 followers
April 2, 2021
3.5 it was such a short read and felt a little rushed sometimes but, I think it’s because it’s aimed towards a younger audience, I 100% think everyone should read. Such an important look into Amal’s culture so sad but eye opening!
Profile Image for Sahil Javed.
258 reviews238 followers
July 30, 2020
Amal Unbound tells the story of Amal, a young girl living in a small village in Pakistan, who unknowingly insults the corrupt landlord of her village and as a result, is forced to become a servant in order to pay off her family’s debt.
“Sometimes I wish I did not pay such careful attention. Maybe then I would not have learned that they thought being a girl was such a bad thing.”

I really enjoyed this book and I need to read more books like these, by Pakistani authors. It’s not even just that I loved the plot, which I really did, it’s that I’m seeing all aspects of my culture represented in literature and it honestly feels amazing. Just small things like seeing the name Shaukat in a book, which is my father’s name, and seeing village life through Amal’s eyes that just remind me of my mother’s stories of her own childhood growing up in a village.
“I thought hope had vanished. But hope was a tricky thing. It found its way back to me.”

Amal was a really interesting protagonist, mainly because she holds so much strength and hope in her heart for someone so young and it really made me admire her. Her journey through being forced to become a slave, to becoming a part of a team taking down the corrupt landlord just felt really heartwarming, especially seeing her grow and make decisions for herself. The only thing I have to say though is that the ending felt a little rushed and resolved really quickly but apart from that, it was a really strong book.
“In a week or so, we can see how things are going,” my father continued. “But in any case, remember, you have already learned a lot. More than many of the neighborhood girls. You can read and write. What more do you need to know?”

I always thought my parents knew me well. So how could he ask me that? What more did I need to know?

The whole world, Abu, the whole world.”

I also really enjoyed Amal questioning the thinking in her village, especially when it came down to the treatment of boys compared to girls. I liked that Amal stood up for herself and recognised that it was wrong that her education wasn’t seen as a priority and that what was important was for her to become someone in the house that should look after others and learn how to maintain a household. But I liked that, even from a young age, Amal was fighting and questioning these beliefs in her own way.
“Life isn’t fair. Maybe it was true, but why was that a reason to just accept everything and go along with it?”

Overall, Amal Unbound made me realise just how much I need more books representing my culture. I can never get enough of books like these.
Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,790 reviews2,133 followers
January 26, 2019
3.5 stars

I think this book has a very important story and I hope we will see more stories and characters like Amal in the future. I hope this book leads to many more important books.


My issue is reading this book as an adult, I was not convinced that Amal had the thoughts and actions of someone her own age. Granted she had different circumstances than most young girls, but she felt like a 30+ year old woman to me sometimes. That combined with flat characters and and average writing style I felt this book could have been so much more.


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Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,781 reviews4,498 followers
July 12, 2020
Content Warnings: Violence towards children, off the page death

I'm not going to lie. I originally checked this book out because the cover was gorgeous not even aware of the gem of a story that would be contained inside. Amal Unbound takes place in Pakistan and focuses on the emotional journey Amal makes after being sold into servitude to the Khan family. While on the mild side in terms of the description of the experiences of children laborers, Amal Unbound is a story of hope, strength, and courage.

In the beginning of the novel, the reader gets the opportunity to see Amal as a young child with hopes and dreams. She loves school and plans to become a teacher. What appears to be a harmless situation in which she stands up for herself actually turns out to be an interaction that solidifies her servitude to the Khan family. Saeed did an excellent job communicating the thoughts and feelings experienced by Amal when she figures out that she must serve the Khan family to repay her family debts. Like other children, Amal wants to have fun, explore, stay in school. Readers have the opportunity to experience the rawness of emotion that Amal feels when all of it is taken away. What I enjoyed the most is that even in her lowest moments, Amal was still hopeful for a way out. At the Khan home Amal continues to make strides in learning more about herself. This reinforces the idea that no mater how much you think you know about yourself there is definitely more that can be learned. Young or old.

One of my biggest complaints about this book was the sense of idealism that happened towards the end. This doesn't mean that Amal doesn't deserve a happy ending, but it didn't necessarily feel right. There were some really dangerous moments that Amal put herself into that I don't truly believed were warranted. I don't want to take away from the happy ending because I know as a Black reader I get really aggravated when Black women don't get the opportunity to see themselves in positive, fulfilled endings. The author does address the reality of the situation in the author's note and I did remind myself that this was written with a middle grade audience in mind. Overall, it was a delightful novel and I'm looking forward to reading more by the author.
Profile Image for kav (xreadingsolacex).
177 reviews344 followers
July 20, 2020
"If everyone decided nothing could change, nothing ever would."


Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed is a beautiful and moving middle-grade novel about twelve-year-old Amal, a young girl living in a Pakistani village with dreams of becoming a teacher. Amal's dreams are soon crushed when she actually insults a member of the ruling family of her village, and she is then forced to work as a servant in his house.

Saeed's novel tackles many important themes in a way accessible to the audience it is meant for. From classism to sexism, this novel is very honest in its portrayal of real world themes.

Outside of this novel's incredible portrayal of these subjects, I also loved Amal's character arc through this novel.

Amal starts off this novel very idealistic and full of hope, living a relatively content and happy life. When this life is snatched from her, her hope is as well, but her arc in returning to her hopeful self full of dreams was so beautifully done and is the exact message that needs to be given to young girls like her.

Saeed really emphasizes the importance of education, resistance, and family in this novel and she handles all these themes so beautifully.

Yes, this novel does have a happy and idealistic ending, but I think that these stories are also important, especially when considering the audience this is written for.

Amal Unbound was my first introduction to Saeed's work, but I know that I will definitely be continuing to pick her work up after how this one impressed me.
Profile Image for Oyinda.
649 reviews144 followers
August 30, 2022
Book 6 of 2021

Oh, my darling Amal. I love Amal so much and I love this book even more. This is amazing, and it made me cry so much, even from the opening chapters. It was so emotionally powerful, and so much was covered in this book. I was affected by so much in this book, and it hurt so much. I loved it and I appreciated every bit of it.

Amal's education and home life are some of the first parts examined in this book, and I could totally relate, as a first daughter. There was the issue of Amal's mother birthing only girls, and that led to the community gossiping about her, and even pitying her. Post partum depression was also examined, and how it affected Amal's family.

Amal's experience as an indentured slave also greatly impacted me, and I cherished reading all of that. I enjoyed reading about how all that played out. Family, found family, belonging, and community are parts of human existence that are very important, and I loved how the author wrote all of this into the book.

I learnt a lot by reading this book, and I love how it was written for Middle Grade readers. I highly recommend it for readers of all ages.
Profile Image for Jenny Baker.
1,241 reviews197 followers
January 2, 2020
*One of my January selections for the Pick One For Me challenge with the group A Million More Pages*

I absolutely loved this and the cover is so beautiful! I was so engrossed in this story that I read it in one sitting. It’s a hard story to read since it deals with cruel people who force people into being their indentured servants for what we consider trivial matters. Amal is a young Pakistani girl and she talks back to a man at a local market not realizing he’s the son of village’s wealthy landlord. The entire village fears the Khan family. She doesn’t have a choice so she has to go live with the Khan family on their estate as a servant to pay off her “debt”, because saying “I’m sorry” just isn’t good enough for the Khan’s. Amal is a strong, courageous girl who fights for her freedom, but she has no idea if she’ll ever see her family again. Satisfying ending. I highly recommend the audiobook.
Profile Image for kate.
1,078 reviews916 followers
February 9, 2020
A brilliantly written, powerful and moving story of bravery, the privilege of freedom and taking a stand against the ruthless powers that be. This middle grade will pull at the heartstrings of readers of all ages.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
3,946 reviews2,175 followers
October 20, 2020
I wrote the review a long time ago. But like my missing socks and hair ties, I don't know what happened to it.
Profile Image for Anum S..
95 reviews424 followers
June 28, 2018
Malala Yousafzai, a globally-recognised Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, has inspired countless discussions, panels and articles. She now inspires Aisha Saeed’s latest novel, Amal Unbound.

However, while Yousafzai has spoken at international forums and been interviewed by multiple famous personalities, Saeed’s protagonist achieves none of that level of fame. That, explains Saeed, is precisely why she wrote about Amal, the eponymous heroine of our novel, because other than Yousafzai, millions of young girls fight every day for their right to have an education, but their efforts are neither documented nor praised and it is imperative that we celebrate all our heroes, named and unnamed.

In Amal Unbound, 12-year-old Amal lives an ordinary life in Nabay Chak, a Pakistani village which, thankfully, doesn’t portray the stereotype of dirt poor and bathroom-less existence that most books featuring subcontinental villages do. Amal pursues dreams of a bright future with diligence at her school; she is one of the star pupils and is excited about the ability to progress as she studies. Real life, however, appears in the form of a mother suffering from post-partum depression — although the word is never explicitly mentioned in the story, in a smart move on Saeed’s part, for that level of awareness is rarely present in Pakistani metropolitan cities, much less in small villages. With three younger sisters, it becomes Amal’s responsibility to look after the household and the family as their mother recuperates, forcing Amal to keep missing more and more days of school. The drudgery of cleaning and cooking and her frustration with a mother who refuses to leave a dark room pushes Amal to take a few moments of breathing space, so she heads to the market for an impromptu shopping trip. An accident with a car belonging to her village’s ruling family serves as the catalyst that takes the story forward.

Taking inspiration from real life, Saeed has drawn our villain as a manipulative, cruel landlord whose all-seeing eye and heavy taxes on the villagers control many of the families in Amal’s neighbourhood. In Pakistan, the word of the landlords is often taken as law and their dictates rule the lives under their thumb. Amal’s accident with Jawad Sahib, the tyrannical son of her village’s landlord, culminates in her showing defiance in public, refusing to hand over a pomegranate that Jawad Sahib wants. As punishment for her disobedience, Jawad Sahib shows up at Amal’s house the next day, displacing her from the warmth of her home to his wealthy estate where she is fated for a life of indentured servitude. Faced with no choice, Amal becomes the handmaid of the mistress of the house, a woman who was once part of the village, just like Amal. As Amal struggles to learn how to fulfil her duties in a household where she is essentially a servant, she clashes with a young girl Nabila, who feels replaced by Amal’s presence. She also finds a secret library from where she can borrow books and begins giving alphabet lessons to one of the younger servant girls, Fatima. It is in these intricacies that Saeed’s book comes to life, drawing Amal for us as a three-dimensional figure with fears and apprehensions as well as desires and dreams.

Saeed does a great job of showing both the gravity of the situation while keeping the readability intact and the flow smooth. As a novel for middle-grade readers, the language is simple and clean, even when the topics handled are heavy and the subject matter full of depth. In portraying complicated relationships, such as that between Amal and the woman she serves, Saeed proves a deft hand at balancing the nuances of such connections.

Education, and the need for educating oneself, is a constant refrain in the story. Young Fatima latches onto Amal as a teacher, eager and willing to learn the alphabet with Amal’s patient help. This in turn ignites a desire and awareness in Amal about being able to teach herself. This dream is further encouraged by a young teacher at the Adult Literacy Centre set up in Amal’s village. Although ostensibly under the aegis of the ministry of education, the building and start-up costs were provided by Jawad Sahib’s father. Because of this the villagers, afraid of their landlord and his corruption, stay away. With elections approaching and the centre lying empty and desolate, Jawad Sahib sends Amal there, hoping that when media personnel come snooping they won’t raise a hue and cry about the empty chairs. This leads to Amal’s encounter with a young male teacher who dreams of educating the masses, but has no one to teach.

The Literacy Centre and the young professor help Amal when she discovers her master’s depth of corruption. When rumours of a crime Jawad Sahib committed reach her ears, she can either keep her mouth shut and pretend she knows nothing, or step out of her comfort zone and, with remarkable bravery, do something about it. It is through this decision that Saeed’s heroine becomes worthy of her narrative: she is not only kind and empathic to those around her, but also willing to speak out against wrongdoing.

As lessons go, Amal Unbound teaches children all the right ones: through her slowly developing friendship with Nabila it shows that patience and kindness can win over the hardest hearts. Through her persistence to keep reading, by borrowing books from Jawad Sahab’s library, it shows that having a dream and working hard for it is rewarding. And through her bravery in reporting a crime, it shows that even though one might be scared, it is important to speak out against injustice.

With the author’s background as one of the founding members of the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ campaign that was widely discussed on social media, it’s great to see more desi protagonists populating our shelves. The campaign was launched in 2014 by a group of authors, Saeed included, to draw attention to the appalling lack of diversity in children’s literature and advocated “essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honours the lives of all young people.” With books such as Amal Unbound, it seems possible that readers from South Asian countries, as well as children of immigrant parents, have a greater chance of seeing their own cultures and habits represented in the literature they read.

***

This review was originally published in Books and Authors on 24 June, 2018.

***

ORIGINAL UPDATE:

Good stuff! Need to review this ohmygod I NEED TIME IN MY LIFE.
April 6, 2018
Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!

I received a copy of Amal Unbound from the UK distributor. I’ve been anticipating this book for AGES! Especially because of its beautiful cover. Seriously, Amal Unbound‘s cover is one of my top favourite covers of 2018. What do you think of it?

It’s #ownvoices for Pakistani rep.

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I loved this book. It’s an empowering read, and I think children can learn a lot about indentured servitude.

It tackles classism, sexism, and poverty, in an accessible manner, making it simple and understandable for young middle grade readers to understand.

The most heart-breaking scene for me was when Amal realised how her society felt about girls. The most beautiful scene is the one where she starts to teach a younger girl how to read.

The ending is a happy ending, and I’m aware that some critics may consider it unrealistic. However, this ending is not unrealistic. It has happened before and it can happen again.

__

Amal Unbound was a lovely short read. I definitely recommend this book to all MG readers, and also recommend that teachers teach it in their classrooms. It’s worth reading, and can be used in an educational format.

Trigger warning: rape threats, murder (off-page), violence, indentured servitude.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,087 reviews727 followers
May 1, 2018
Thanks to Penguin Kids for this review copy!

Hands-down the middle grade book of spring 2018. An eye-opening and riveting story, inspiring and cliff hanger chapter endings and accessible text make this a required read aloud for grades 4 and up. The author's note is fabulous and not to be missed.
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,548 followers
Read
April 30, 2020
CW: indentured servitude, child labor, car accident, post-partum depression.

This book. I don't even know how to talk about it, other than to say that it's heartbreaking and hopeful and brilliantly crafted and definitely worth a read.

It's about Amal, a little girl living in a small pakistani village where a tyranic landlord is keeping everyone under his thumb by indebting them and making the conditions and interests so bad that they're basically never able to get out of it. One day Amal crosses paths with him, talks back to him and he decided to come collect his money from her father, money he knows the man doesn't have so he comes and takes Amal from her family to work for him.

So this book has a clear before and after. The before where Amal lives with her family, taking care of her sisters, having a relatively peaceful and comfortable life. Then the after, where Amal works in this huge house, creates bonds with the other servants and tries to get adjusted to her new normal. This story is very emotional, it focuses a lot on Amal's internal turmoil, how she's adjusting, the difficulties she's having, and a common theme throughout the whole book are her hopes and dreams: She wants to be a teacher. Amal is such a lovable character, strong, brave and yet vulnerable and scared and knows that sometimes the price for the right thing is high and yet she's still willing to pay it.

I feel like there's so much more to say about this book, but my thoughts are jumbled so, you're all gonna have to content yourselves with this.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,686 followers
August 13, 2019
A powerful story about freedom, bravery, and doing what is right in the face of terrifying odds and powerlessness.

- Set in Pakistan, the story follows Amal, a girl who lives in a small village, loves to read, and wants to become a teacher one day. Following a confrontation with the village's feudal landlord, Amal is sent to serve at the opulent Khan estate to pay off her debt as a servant.
- Saeed is an excellent storyteller. Her words may not be as floral as others may like, but her ability to write stories from the perspectives of young Pakistani girls, to question and challenge the status quo, and ask confronting questions that are powerful and also sensitive makes her such an important writer in today's literary world.
- I can't speak on the issues that this book explores, but I can say that the questions and ideas that this story raises are thought-provoking, necessary, and shines a light on something that many people take for granted.
- The story humanises an array of characters, but is also extremely clear on what is just, what is wrong, and what is blurry.
- This book has an excellent beginning, a bit of a shaky middle, but a powerful ending that bumped this up from a 3 to a 4 for me.

Trigger warnings:
Profile Image for Lata.
3,441 reviews180 followers
June 8, 2018
While not as horrifying as it could be, this story of a girl forced into indentured servitude by a local rich man (and bully), is disturbing. One small mistake, and Amal is taken from her family (her father owes the rich man money and Amal is taken to pay for this) and brought to the man’s home to work as a servant. What saves this from being horrifying is thankfully Amal’s story does not involve rape, though I imagine that is a daily risk for people forced into indentured servitude. Amal finds out that though her parents have sold their valuables to try to pay off their debt to this man and get her back, there is no way her parents can raise enough cash. At this point, Amal has to figure out a way to get herself out.
Amal shows a lot of strength, first in how she deals with her family and friends, and also in how she figures out how to live in her new situation.
Profile Image for Imanewreader.
291 reviews189 followers
March 26, 2021
i knew i'd love this book from the day i first heard about it. but because i am an idiot i postponed the day i read it. but today was the day and i am glad i finally did !
knowing it was inspired by Malala's story i expected a message of bravery and hope, a message of wisdom. and i am not disappointed.

it is targeted towards a younger audience and so there is no big trigger for me and i appreciate it.
i'll, for sure, recommend it to my friends.
Profile Image for ikram.
240 reviews601 followers
November 27, 2019
TRIGGER WARNING:
- Off-page murder
- Sexist comment
- Child labor
- Violence

I will not lie when I say this is a book you should read before the end of the year, heck even before you decide to stop reading. Not only middle grade students, but grown-up adult should read this book and learn from Amal and her enviroment. Even though it disscusses heavy topics, this book was so light to read.

The book follows Amal, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Nabay Chak, Paskitan. Aside from taking care of her family, Amal is an excellent student and dreams to be a teacher. Her dreams are crushed when she accidentally insult the landlord of her village. For punishment, Amal has to leave her family and school behind to work as a servant in landlord’s household.

Amal Unbound started really light and empowering, for everyone still think women should focus on being a good housewife instead of pursue their dreams and education. From the very beginning, I was given an ugly truth about how the world sees women; as a breeding machine and obedient housewife.

Education becomes the main theme of the book. Amal Unbound is a book about Amal’s struggle to learn and study, to get the education she deserves. Even after she was taken away to work for the Khan family—the village’s landlord. Every single day, Amal is still fighting for her rights; education and proper treatment, at the same time trying to find a way to end the tyranny of Khan family once and for all.

Saeed brings up important and heavy topics like sexism, importance of education and family, child labor, corruption, tyranny and resistance—then wrap them beautifully so they are suitable for younger readers. Even though we don’t really find these topics in middle grade books, I think it’s important for people to bring them to children as early as possible. Amal Unbound is a book every children should read because it’s an eye-open experience, even for me. Saeed is a great storyteller and I think every kids would love this book!

Unfortunately, as much as I’m glad Saeed discussed about important topics, Amal doesn’t sound like a normal 12 years old. It feels unrealistic to me, to hear a kid her age talk that way.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Favorite shelf: yes
Will I recommend it to you? YES!!!!

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