Amal Unbound (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

An important and well done story about indentured servitude in Pakistan. Amal is an appealing and smart heroine who unfortunately says the wrong thing to a powerful man, causing her to become a servant in his home. Although it may be a difficult subject for kids to read, this is definitely a middle grade book since the plot is fairly linear.

— Audrey H.

From the opening page, I was hooked by the spirited voice of book-loving Amal, a Pakistani village girl who is devoted to her growing family and dreams of being a teacher and a poet. Amal’s character was inspired by Malala and her courageous activism for girls’ education rights. Readers will be uplifted by Amal’s struggle to escape indentured servitude and return to the family she loves and the the destiny she deserves. 

— Rhonda

Summer 2018 Kids Indie Next List

“Amal is living a decent life in her Pakistani village. She loves school and plans to go to college and become a teacher. But when she offends a member of the most influential family in the village, her dreams and goals are suddenly upended and she is sold as a servant to pay her father’s ‘debts.’ Saeed takes on challenging subjects—indentured servitude and the treatment of women—and makes them accessible to a middle reader, while making the reader cheer for Amal as she finds her way again.”
— Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, KS


"Saeed's timely and stirring middle-grade debut is a celebration of resistance and justice."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The compelling story of a girl's fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when--as the eldest daughter--she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens--after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal--especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

About the Author

Aisha Saeed also wrote Written in the Stars, and is a Pakistani-American writer, teacher, and attorney. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel. 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780399544682
ISBN-10: 0399544682
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: May 8th, 2018
Pages: 240
Language: English