Beneath My Mother’s Feet
Though her parents urge her to, fourteen-year-old Nazia doesn't want to get married, as it will mean leaving school and her hometown, Karachi, Pakistan. Besides, she barely knows her fiancé, an older cousin. Then, misfortune befalls Nazia's family: her father suffers an injury at his construction job, and Nazia's dowry is stolen. Destitute and desperate, Nazia's mother pulls her out of school so that they can clean houses to support their family. With Nazia's newly degraded status, marriage seems unattainable, and education just an absurd dream.
JLG Release: Sep 2008
Awards & Honors
NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2009, World History and Culture
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal
School Library Journal
After her father’s work injury and her older brother’s disappearance, 14-year-old Nazia is pulled from school to join her mother for exhausting and humiliating work cleaning houses in modern-day Karachi. This change of status jeopardizes the girl’s arranged marriage with her cousin back in their native village. Reminded by her
After her father’s work injury and her older brother’s disappearance, 14-year-old Nazia is pulled from school to join her mother for exhausting and humiliating work cleaning houses in modern-day Karachi. This change of status jeopardizes the girl’s arranged marriage with her cousin back in their native village. Reminded by her mother of the Prophet Muhammad’s words, “All children know that the gates of heaven lie beneath their mother’s feet,” Nazia is torn between her wish for further education and her need to be a dutiful daughter. Happily, what seems a terrible disgrace eventually frees her for more satisfying possibilities. Along the way, she comes to realize that her mother rightly characterizes the beloved men in her family as unreliable and dishonest, and she helps a boy essentially sold into servitude by his mother to escape; these story threads are not always smoothly woven into the narrative. Nazia’s story is told in a limited third person but occasionally the author’s voice breaks through, explaining her thinking for American readers. This first novel by a Muslim Indian-American provides a fascinating glimpse into a world remarkably distant from that of most American teens, and would be an excellent suggestion for readers who want to know about how other young people live.
Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Level 4.9; Points: 8;
Scholastic Reading Counts
Level 4.7; Points: 14;
Potentially Sensitive Areas
Karachi, Pakistan, Marriage, Arranged marriages, Education, Gender equality, Gender roles, Southeast Asia, Social and class hierarchy, Cultural customs, Poverty, Family life, Coming of age, Pursuing dreams, Child labor, Marital strife, Friendship, Personal growth, Female solidarity, Hunger, Money,