Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Payback by Rosemary Hayes (part of the Human Trafficking Awareness Day reviews)

Read for

June 2009, Frances Lincoln 
208 pages, Paperback
Review copy 

Pakistani culture, arranged marriages, forced marriages, kidnapping, compassion and kindness, love, school life, courage, mild romantic elements, tissues will be needed. 

Summary from Frances Lincoln 
Like other young Muslim girls of 18, Halima has moved with her family to London and her horizons are beginning to expand. Then, just as she is about to start university, she discovers her father's plan: to marry her to the son of a distant relation in Pakistan who once did him a favour. Halima is to be the repayment of the debt. And it's payback time...

Nayuleska's thoughts
This book relates to Human Trafficking Awareness Day because Halima is treated like an object. The story starts off in a lovely way, describing her early life and how much she was loved by her family in Pakistan. Her brothers were favoured more than her, and her father was what you could call strict and unreasonable at times. He worked in England for a while, and Halima was both excited and nervous about joining him them. The problem is, once there she realised that he wasn't the father she'd known him to be. She settled in pretty fast to the English way of life. The book covers a span of several years, with events that snowballed to the end of the story. Knowing that she was kidnapped made it clear to me straight away who the culprits would probably be. I just didn't know how it would happen, and that was a scary part. 

Regular readers may know that I've stopped the habit of peeking at the end of a book. This one was a real test of strength - I was so worried for Halima. She is a sweet, intelligent girl who wants what is best for her. She wants to follow Islam correctly, the Islam that says it is okay to say no to marrying a suitor, that everyone is free to choose who to marry. Arranged marriages often work out very well. Both parties involved learn about each other, and about each other's families. I've known several people marry this way and they are very happy. 

Unfortunately the story of Halima is based on a real one. It really shows the horrors that are present in some parts of Islam. Rosemary makes it clear that what Halima's parents are doing isn't promoted by Islam. I liked that touch, and also the fact that Halima's best friend is Kate. Kate is Irish, she's funny, blunt, not quite who you'd expect Halima to be friends with. But they care for each other. Kate is the one who ultimately helps Halima, as do several other people who care for her. I wanted to cry in places where I didn't know what was happening next (which was most of the book, but some of it really had me on the edge of my seat.) I liked it how the chapters sometimes switched from Halima's point of view, to Kate's and another person's. The reader was able to get the whole picture of what happened to Halima. 

I think the cover is fantastic. It portrays exactly what happens, all the emotions behind Halima's life. 

Final conclusion 
A great insight into how life can be like from some Muslim girls. Based on a true story, it shows how families can turn against each other, as well as how true friendships and loyalties can make a huge difference to someone's life. By having Kate and other people care for her, Halima has that chance that some kidnapped girls don't have. Hope and freedom.

Rosemary Hayes can be found on her website. She also is the author of The Blue-Eyed Aborigine, reviewed by Amy, who also interviewed Rosemary

1 comment:

Kulsuma said...

That cover is so eye-catching. I love it. The book sounds great!