Amal Unbound: MG Review

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Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Genre: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Publication: June 1st 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from Text, Thank you.
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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.


Amal Unbound is a Middle Grade novel, but I appreciated and enjoyed this story as an adult. I found it to be a captivating and delightful read, even though it dealt with some not so delightful things.

I am sure that the idea of village hierarchy, an all power landlord and forced servitude would shock a lot kids, which is why books like this are so important. It is a story that I feel will give it’s target audience, and any others who read it for that matter, a connection and compassion for a child in totally different circumstances then themselves. It’s one I’ll definitely be giving to my boys to read when they are a bit older.

Essentially, while 12 year old Amal is under the intense pressure of running her parents household, caring for four younger siblings as her mother suffers from post-natal-depression, she snaps and says the wrong thing to the wrong person. Amal then finds her life turned upside down as she is ripped from her home and forced into the servitude of the man whose ego she bruised.

Ultimately Amal Unbound It is a story of hope. A story of right and wrong. A story of Karma catching up with those that think they are untouchable. A story of a young girl fighting her her freedom, and winning.

Who would enjoy this book: anybody who craves knowledge (Amal dreams of knowing everything there is to know of the world), anybody in need of a feel good tale and being reminded that sometimes right does win out over wrong, anybody who loves an underdog, anybody with a passion for women’s rights.

Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author, 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.

Aisha Saeed links: Goodreads | Text Publishing | Instagram | Website We Need Diverse Books

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Review: Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie

26802671We’re sitting there with matching milkshakes, Sasha and me, and somehow, things aren’t going like I always thought they would. We’re face to face under 24-hour fluorescents with the thoroughly unromantic buzz of aircon in our ears and endless flabby wedges of seated trucker’s arsecrack as our only visual stimulus.

In a dead-end town like Barwen a girl has only got to be a little different to feel like a freak. And Clancy, a typical sixteen-year-old misfit with a moderately dysfunctional family, a genuine interest in Nature Club and a major crush on the local hot girl, is packing a capital F.

As the summer begins, Clancy’s dad is involved in a road smash that kills two local teenagers. While the family is dealing with the reaction of a hostile town, Clancy meets someone who could possibly—at last—become a friend. Not only that, the unattainable Sasha starts to show what may be a romantic interest.

In short, this is the summer when Clancy has to figure out who the hell she is.

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fullsizerenderMy Thoughts: Where do I start with Clancy? The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it ended! I would have happily kept on reading and reading.

I loved following Clancy discover who she is and how she fits into the world. I loved the supporting characters of Nancy, Reeves and Angus. Actually all the characters, I saw bits of people I know in all of them. It was a believable and beautiful coming of age while coming out story.

I love that Clancy’s dad named her after Banjo Paterson’s Clancy of the Overflow. Banjo’s Clancy is one of my all-time favourite characters and I quite often find myself quoting lines of the poem in my head, like while writing this review – In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy, Gone a-droving ‘down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go – Banjo’s 1889 Drover and Christopher Currie’s 2015 lovable self-loathing teen have nothing in common, other than my eternal love and a semi-unusual name.

I highly commend Mr Currie for managing to capture the pure hell and internal conflict of being a teen. The abusive conversations Clancy has with herself were so familiar – as in I had them with myself repeatedly when I was Clancy’s age. I don’t think there is anyone that hasn’t at some stage felt about themselves the way Clancy feels. She is relate-able, even if you don’t identify as homosexual or even admit to ever having desires for the same sex, we’ve all been teens AND being a teenager sucks. Teenage-suck-ism transcends generational and racial gaps. I think Clancy of the Undertow will go down in history as a teen classic along with the time capsule likes of Puberty Blues and The Outsiders.

FIVE another brilliant #LoveOzYA story STARS.
Five Stars