Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beneath My Mother's Feet

Book Talk: Nazia has always been a good, obedient daughter, but when her father gets injured at work, everything starts to change.  At first neighbors bring food to help her family, but the longer his recovery takes the more people begin to doubt that he is still really injured, and the more Nazia's family is left to cope on their own.  Then one day even her mother loses faith in her father, and she takes Nazia out of school to help her work as a maid!  Nazia thinks that once her father finds out, he'll save her and things will return to normal, but instead things just get worse.  Nazia's family needs her and she wants to obey her mother, but will her obedience mean a lifetime working as a maid, being mistreated by cruel employers and just barely scraping by?  Or will she be doomed to go from constantly obeying her mother to being under the heel of a mother-in-law?  Will she ever get the chance to be on her own and do what she pleases?  Is it worth taking that chance if it means abandoning her family?  Sometimes it seems like she will always remain beneath her mother's feet.

Rocks My Socks: I love Nazia's spirit and intelligence.  I also enjoyed seeing her grow from her youthful naivety into a strong-willed woman.  She sees a lot of the worst of people and the world, but rather than let it defeat her, it spurns her on to find a way to break the cycle she seems stuck in.  Her independence is admirable as well--I always respect the 'I don't need a man' philosophy!  Mostly I loved looking at the familiar dilemma of pleasing your family versus being true to yourself from the lens of a different cultural perspective.  There are interesting details and cultural insights throughout, as the author lived in Pakistan for several years and has a degree in psychology as well as English, which lends an interesting perspective to the book.

Rocks In My Socks: The book felt a bit heavy-handed and sappy at times with its 'even from a dirty hovel with an empty stomach you can still see the stars' attitude.  The plot was also nothing terribly original.

Every Book Its Reader: I'd recommend this to ages 12 and up.  It's a great book for anyone interested in learning about Pakistani culture, or for anyone who enjoys Oprah book club type books (you know what I'm talking about!)  The book does revolve heavily around a female experience and perspective and the male characters are mostly of the good-for-nothing variety, so I'd say it's geared more towards girls, but could be enjoyed by more liberal-minded boys as well.

Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar

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