Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Summary: Omar is on his way to the prestigious Ghalib Academy, an honor celebrated not only by him and his mother, but by his entire community. He knows he’ll have to work hard, but he’s unprepared for the reality of what it means to be a scholarship student: no clubs or sports, five hours of chores each week, and a good possibility of being expelled if he doesn’t maintain an A-plus average. Omar grows close to some of the other boys on scholarship, and they work together day and night to try to keep their grades up. When Omar and his friend Naveed find out they’ve been “weeded” at the end of the first year, they are desperate to find a way to stay at the school. Omar discovers that his kindness and work ethic have not gone unnoticed. He finds allies in unlikely places as he and the other students become activists to change the rules, not only for Omar and Naveed, but for the boys who will come after them. 224 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: Omar, a friend of Amal’s from Amal Unbound, will inspire readers with his determination and social activism. Learning about the class differences in Pakistan and how they affect the lives of those in every class may cause readers to take a closer look at differences in their own cultures.
Cons: Don’t make the mistake that I did and read the last few chapters of this book in a public place with no tissues in the immediate vicinity.