I just wish I had a print copy to squeeze in my fingers and hug to my heart and yet, I truly appreciate the opportunity from NetGalley to read an advanced copy.
Brave, strong, fearless, intelligent, strong willed, speak-her-mind Amal is a character I won't forget for a very long time. I already know I will be fighting hard to be the leader of this Newbery '19 book group.
Immediately, I was drawn in by the absolutely gorgeous language. This is from page 4:
"This is what I now remember most about my last afternoon at school--the smell of the dusty chalkboard, the sound of the students lingering outside the door, and mostly, how easily I took my ordinary life for granted."And from the beginning you will hold your heart for Amal. From caring for her mother after she gives birth to the fourth girl to her time as a servant for the corrupt Jawad Sahib, Amal hardly loses hope. "I thought hope had vanished. But hope was a tricky thing. It found its way back to me."
I marked many, many inspiring quotes in this book. And yet, there are even more but they got lost as I was too absorbed in the beautiful writing to even stop to flag a bookmark.
When Amal is taken from her family, I held my breath wishing that hope would continue to find her. Even when "everything as solid as the earth [her] grandfather fought for crumble[s] so easily beneath [her] feet" Amal does not give up. I plead, "Please free this brave girl. Please don't harm her. Please give her strength. Please let her be with her family." Yet, it is hard to believe that she could ever be free again. How could just one instance at the market change her life forever?
Why did I let my temper get the better of me that day outside the market? Regret, I was learning was the sharpest knife there was.
If you can get the book on Netgalley, do it. If you are patient, you can wait until May. Then, take my advice and clear your calendar, for you will not want to put it down. And then when it is over, go through your sticky notes and highlights and soak in those thoughtful quotes at least one more time.
I knew learning to read wouldn't change the fact that Fatima was trapped here like I was, cleaning the floors, dusting baseboards, and peeling potatoes. But at least by teaching her to read, I gave her a window to see worlds beyond ours and a chance to imagine leaving the walls of this estate and to feel free, even if it was only for a little while.Thank you, Aisha Saeed, for writing a story that showed me a world beyond and at the same time, one for my students so they can travel far away without ever leaving Castleton.