Wanting Mor (Rukhsana Khan)

Raised in a poor Afghan village, young Jameela knows what it's like to need to take care of yourself, but she did not expect such extreme measures.

After her Mor (Pushto for mother) dies of an illness, she and her inexperienced father set out to Kabul where she gets a glimpse of city life. What seems like an exciting journey becomes a rather scary rollercoaster ride when her father remarries a mean-spirited woman and abandons Jameela in the marketplace. From there she has to power through many more obstacles and stay strong with her faith in Allah while doing so.

Despite this book's short length, I learned more in it than I have in some 400-page books. The story is so real while still having the mildly fantastical edge that keeps you hooked. It gave me a new perspective, not only on the Middle East in general, but on Islam and the belief system. America, the youth in particular, have seen enough of the demonized version of the Middle East. Although that part is most definitely there, there is so much that people don't think or talk about.

Pop culture makes it seem as though all Muslims are terrible, misogynistic people, and that is unfair and untrue, what with the billions of Muslims in this world. "Wanting Mor" shows an interesting perspective of this often misinterpreted area that is the Middle Eastern from the point of view of a young girl we can relate to. It deals with large issues of war, religion and poverty without being preachy or boring, as well as personal challenges with family, faith and friendship.

The glossary in the back of the book (pages 186-190) will help a lot if you are not familiar with Islamic and/or Pushto terms and phrases, as well as a helpful source if you forget the meaning of this or that.

Because of its length, "Wanting Mor" can be read in less than a week if you have the time and effort. It's quick but fulfilling, making it a great report book to tag on to studies in school, or to read together as a class or family.

A fantastically thought-provoking story inspired by true events, this book proves that even with such simple writing you can learn much. Ages 10 and up.

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