Amjed Qamar's first novel, set in Pakistan, is something that every malcontented 14-year-old U.S. girl needs to read. Not only is it an interesting depiction of daily life that is much different from the one we know, it is a wonderful example of the things that adolescents in the U.S. take for granted. Don't have a cell phone? Be grateful that you are allowed to go to school.
Nazia is not so lucky. Her father, a construction worker, is injured in an accident and becomes ill-inclined to work, even after he recovers. Her older brother, Bilal, does not contribute to the family income and breaks into the home to steal Nazia's dowry. Without the dowry, her arranged marriage to a cousin is called off. Her mother pulls her out of school so that she can help watch her brother and sister while the mother cleans houses. The family situation worsens, and soon the family is living in an unused outbuilding at one of the homes that they clean.
This is a great book to give to students who like problem novel. Like Iqbal, this story brings another part of the world to life. I hope to see more from this author, who works in a nearby school system. Since it is so hard to get young adult books from other parts of the world, this is the next best thing.
In the same vein, I had great hopes for Zenati's A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, about an Israeli girl who gets to know a Palestinian boy via e mail. It didn't hit me quite right-- Nye's Habibi gave a much clearer picture of that part of the world.
Also working through the rest of the Andy McNab books still. Started to knit and do quilts, which is cutting into my reading time a lot!