Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books

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Summary:  Amal loves going to school in her Pakistani village, but when her mother suffers postpartum depression, she must stay home to help run the household.  While doing marketing for the family, she has an accidental run-in with a member of the wealthy Khan family that gets her into serious trouble. Her father owes money to the Khans, and Amal is forced to work as an indentured servant in the family’s mansion to pay off his debt.  Her father assures her he will get the money quickly, but as time goes on, Amal sees that she may suffer the fate of the other servants and be forced to stay for years. Amal’s perseverance and determination pay off, and when she sees her opportunity to help herself and others around her, she finds the courage to take it and move forward. Includes an author’s note that ties together the fictional Amal’s life and the real-life Malala Yousafzai. 240 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  A powerful story about a courageous girl in a part of the world that may be unfamiliar to many U.S. readers.  Kids who know Malala’s story will have a connection that will draw them into this book.

Cons:  Amal’s happy ending seemed a little unrealistic, and the author mentions in her note that for many more kids trapped in indentured servitude, there is not usually such a way out.

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