Even before she started school, Amal had a curious mind and wanted to know how things worked: How fast do airplanes fly? Where do ladybugs go when it rains? And what is it like to walk through the streets of another country?
Further inspired by her teacher Miss Sadia, Amal spends her spare time staying behind after class so she can learn how to become a teacher. Her love of learning is shared by her best friend, Omar, who brings her books from his school library to read.
This all changes when her Mother falls ill, Amal must stay home and take on the burden of caring for the house and her sisters. While shopping for her family at the market one day, things get worse after a run-in with Jawad Sahib, the corrupt and dangerous son of the village landlord.
The fall out from this encounter turns Amal’s world upside down and she finds herself an unpaid servant at the Khan estate where she is surrounded by wealth she has never encountered before but cannot access books, the thing she desires most.
Desperately missing her family, Amal is eventually embraced by the other servants and taken under the wing of Nasreen Baji, the matriarch of the house. Amal begins to find a way to cope but she can’t let go of her hopes and dreams of seeing her family again and becoming a teacher.
However, when police regularly visit to see Jawad, she begins to realise that there is a lot more going on here than bullying and financially pressuring tenants. How can she begin to find justice, change things for herself and for her community?
This heart-warming story will remind children that education and access to books really is a huge privilege and will open their eyes to some of the injustice in other parts of the world.
Amal shows courage and strength in her fight for justice and her determination to be educated.
Inspired by Malala Yousafzai, Amal Unbound is written by Pakistani-American writer, teacher and attorney, Aisha Saeed, who also campaigns for diversity in books. As well as being entertained and intrigued, readers 9+ will take away many wonderful things from this moving and very beautiful story.
Aisha Saeed is a Pakistani-American writer, teacher and attorney. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC and the BBC, and, as one of the founding members of the much talked about ‘We Need Diverse Books’ campaign, she is helping change the conversation about diverse books. Aisha lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and sons.