September 2011, Frances Lincoln
352 pages, Paperback
Themes: Life in Afghanistan, disfigurement, living with being different, hope, disappointment, smashing of rose tinted glasses, working alongside the military, hard work, families, love and friendship, education, having a future, being able to eat, drink and smile. Lots of tissues needed
Summary from Frances Lincoln
Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven out of Afghanistan. She hopes for a better relationship with her hard stepmother. And she hopes one day even to go to school. Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the poetry she once taught her mother. And the Americans come to the village, promising not just new opportunities, but surgery to mend Zulaikha's face. But can Zulaikhar dare to hope they will come true?
I often wondered what is like in Afghanistan for 'normal' children. Zulaikha has a bit of a tough time because of her cleft lip, but she's a strong one. Life goes on as much as it can while the army are about. She keeps fighting. Her journey is a harsh one, with its own personal tragedies which rank alongside the joys. They echo the hope that the military can bring to other children like her, to give them a place in the community, although people are reluctant to change their views so readily. Zulaika begins to stand on her own two feet, and make her impact on the world she lives in, something she couldn't do before seeing the Americans.
This heart warming, hope giving and tearful tale is very impressionable, and worth 10/10.
For a powerful read, try Morris Gleitzman's Now