Esther's Reviews > Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan

Nasreen's Secret School by Jeanette Winter
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's review
Mar 06, 2011

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bookshelves: middle-east-literature

Published in 2009 by Beach Lane Books
Interest Level: 2nd-4th Grade

This book has a lot of promise as it begins with a serious look at oppression under the Taliban regime and what that means for a family that is torn apart. The story then transitions to Nasreen and her grandmother (who is the narrator) getting her into a secret school and getting her to talk. It seems as if all of Nasreens troubles go away because of the school, but there is no resolution to the familial troubles at the end of the book.

The problem I have with this book is the intense positivism of the second half of this book that glosses over the fact that Nasreen has no brother, father, or mother anymore and probably has little hope of ever seeing them again. I wish that Winter would have taken a more nuanced view of Nasreen and given her a greater depth of character. The grandmother also seems overly positive throughout the story. The illustrations are interesting, colorful, and reflect some aspects of the Middle Eastern/Afghani culture, but the story leaves some room for greater cultural authenticity.

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