Beneath My Mother's Feet
by Amjed Qamar

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4169-4728-8.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 01/29/2009


Fourteen-year-old Nazia was content. She was going to school, had a happy home life, and was going to be married the following summer. But when her father was injured on the job, her world shattered. Her older brother stole her dowry and ran away rather than support the family. Nazia was pulled out of school to clean houses with her mother. In Amjed Qamar's 2008 novel "Beneath My Mother's Feet," Nazia is faced with an important dilemma: How far do I go to please my parents without losing my own identity?

The parent-child relationships in this book are fascinating. Nazia's father Abbu is, for lack of better words, a scumbag. Once he loses his job, he makes no true effort to find another and wastes the family's hard-earned money. He squanders their rent and when the family is evicted, he disappears. Nazia always thinks the best of him and is irritated with her mother for talking badly about him. Until the day he was caught stealing, she thought he'd somehow rescue them. Abbu is a cockroach of a man! I truly wanted to squash him.

The mother Amma is a very strong female character. She saves her family from destitution by working herself to the bone. Nazia is often at odds with her, like most teenaged daughters, but learns to truly respect her mother. Amma is a wonderful mother figure, wanting the best for her daughter and supporting her in her decisions. I admired her a lot.

Can Nazia overcome a culture of female-obedience and ignorance? Or will she agree to an arranged marriage to her repulsive cousin and continue to depend on the unreliable males in the family? Read the book and find out.

Amjed Qamar graduated from Ohio State University with degrees in English and psychology. She lives in Ohio and works for the Dublin City School District. Amjed lived in Pakistan for several years and returns regularly. This was her first book. Visit her website.

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