I was so happy when my request for this arc was accepted! I read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed last year and loved it so much and Amal Unbound has been one of my most anticipated books this year!
*Please note that this review is based on the arc I received and the final book may have some changes to it.
You always have a choice. Making choices even when they scare you because you know it’s the right thing to do – that’s bravery.
Reading this book evoked a lot of emotions for me. I related to Amal so much, she had dreams, she was hopeful but she also had many obstacles to overcome. This isn’t just the story of Amal and her fight for the right to be able to study and aspire to be more, this is the story of countless brave, strong girls who live this. It’s inspired by Malala Yousafzai and many others . This story may be fiction but it is true to life and it is the reality of many girls living in the villages in Pakistan and all over the world. But it is also about hope and how through their bravery more and more girls can access education and be so much more. It’s about hope in the face of adversity.
The story begins with Amal and her love to learn about anything and everything. It shows us her love for reading and the great lengths she must go to, to have access to books. Then one day while out in the market, she stands up for herself, and it’s taken as an insult, and in that moment her whole life changes. She effectively becomes a servant in the household of the man she stood up to.
This book shows that those that are wealthy and powerful are not invincible and it is through her friends and her community that she slowly pieces together that she can hope and dream for a better world. Her story ends in a hopeful place where she is finally able to go back home to her family and continue to go to school to be able to become a teacher like she always dreamed.
One of the things that I loved was the friendships and sibling love in this book. They supported and helped each other, they looked out for each other and made sacrifices for each other.
One of the things that stood out for me was how the concept that having a boy is better than having a girl. Boys are considered blessings whereas girls are considered burdens and the resulting unjust treatment of girls that stems from this. I loved that Amal questioned this and that she showed, on many occasions, she is just as brave and equal to the boys. In one incident she stands up to the police officers when Bilal couldn’t.
Being a Pakistani woman so many points in this book hit home for me from the right to an education to being treated equally to men to people not understanding the love for reading and learning. It’s safe to say that I was an emotional wreck by the end of the book. I read this book in one sitting, I literally could not put it down and was up all night reading. Even if you haven’t experienced these things it is definitely an eye opening book and everyone should read it! Although things are changing, this still happens in many parts of the world and I loved how Aisha brought to light these issues.
But at least 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.