Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Taste of the Middle East

Beneath My Mother's Feet, by Amjed Qamar--Set in Pakistan and told through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Nazia, this story explores the relationships between parents and children, especially mothers and daughters. Nazia attends school and awaits the day when she will be married to her cousin, Salman. When her father is injured and unable to work, her mother, Naseem, must go outside the home to find employment. She takes Nazia out of school to care for her two younger siblings. They all go along with Naseem on her housekeeping jobs, and Nazia helps her mother in addition to watching her brother and sister.

As time goes on, Nazia realizes she has dreams beyond marriage, beyond what is expected of her. Her struggle to come to terms with her dreams and her reality bring her into conflict with her mother, her father, her siblings, even her mother's employers. I was hard pressed not to yell out loud at Nazia's family (especially her father) as they continuously crushed her emotionally and mentally. Their own hopelessness made them blind to her possibilities. She is so smart and so determined, that you can't help cheering for her as she strives to make her place in the world fit her instead of the other way around.

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