Winner of the Middle East Book Award, Youth Fiction category
Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her faith and the strength of her beloved mother, Mor.
But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela's father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul. He remarries, a situation that turns Jameela into a virtual slave to her demanding stepmother. When the stepmother discovers that Jameela is trying to learn to read, she urges her father to simply abandon the child in Kabul's busy marketplace. Jameela ends up in an orphanage.
Throughout it all, it is the memory of Mor that anchors her and in the end gives Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them into her life again.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
...[T]he storyteller's descriptive language is lovely... Her characters are realistic...Young readers' eyes will be opened to life in another culture. Teens will enjoy this book, especially if the liked Three Cups of Tea...
...Khan's account of [Jameela's] life...makes for good reading. As narrator, Jameela looks out in the world of Islamic Afghanistan from behind her chador, and it is her perspective...of that world that gives this book both its immediacy and its singularity.
...The unique hero sees open roads, where others might only squint at dead ends.
A searing opening chapter...will draw readers into [Jameela's] story...[Readers] will certainly sympathize with her and rejoice in the ultimate outcome.