Picture of author.

Aisha Saeed

Author of Amal Unbound

16+ Works 2,517 Members 131 Reviews

Works by Aisha Saeed

Associated Works


anthology (44) arranged marriage (16) Asia (13) Asian (21) contemporary (25) cooking (20) diverse (16) diversity (31) ebook (19) education (13) family (36) fantasy (54) fiction (99) folklore (12) food (26) friendship (19) grade 6 (12) grade 7 (13) Islam (14) Kindle (14) Middle East (16) middle grade (29) multicultural (15) Muslim (38) mythology (26) non-fiction (12) Pakistan (68) Pakistani (18) picture book (13) politics (26) realistic fiction (61) religion (16) retelling (14) romance (46) short stories (76) social activism (14) to-read (380) U-W (16) YA (51) young adult (60)

Common Knowledge



EducatingParents.org rating: Caution - Read With Care

Book Reviews for Christian Families (FB group) -
"I just finished reading this book and couldn't find a review up here so I thought I would share.
Amal Unbound tells the story of a young Pakistani girl named Amal who longs to continue school to become a teacher. Early in the story, she has to stop attending school to help care for her household and younger sisters after her mother gives birth to another daughter. Amal feels a lot of animosity toward her parents during this section as she hates that she has to give up on her education to take care of the family. She also resents her parents' response to the birth of a fifth daughter.
In a moment of frustration, she leaves home to go to the market alone, something that both parents have asked her not to do. While there, she is struck by a car and mouths off to the driver of the car, who basically blames her for the accident. It turns out that the driver was the evil landlord who controls the whole village. As punishment for her disrespect to him, she is forced to become an indentured servant in his household.
The story follows her to his home, where she becomes his mother's handmaid. Amal faces issues with some of the other servants, secretly borrows books from the landlord's library, and finally uncovers information that lands the bad guy in jail. His mother frees her and the other servants and forgives the debts that Amal's family and other families in the village owed to the landlord.
Overall, this story didn't seem to know what it was. It is promoted as a story about the education of girls, and Amal complains about how bad it is for her as a girl and how things are so much better for her male friend Omar. Yet at the same time, she is frustrated with everyone for their response to the birth of her baby sister and argues to herself that it is good to be a girl. It's supposed to showcase the horrors of indentured servitude, but really, Amal doesn't have it all that bad (She is slapped by the landlord and has her phone taken away, so cannot contact her family. At the same time, she is taken under the wing of the landlord's mother who protects her and provides well for her.) and ends up freed rather quickly and easily. It is a story about family, but while Amal learns how much she missed the things she had previously resented about her family, she is at the same time disillusioned with them upon her return and doesn't seem closer to them, but further isolated.
This book is recommended for middle grades. I would not hand it to the typical middle grade child because I think it would just perpetuate some of the self-centered, victimized thinking that many that age are tempted to. This book might be well used as a discussion starter for thinking through some of these issues and the temptations that we face in our thinking when facing similar trials. I wouldn't give it to a child or teen I wasn't planning on talking with about the book during and after reading. The only agenda it seems to be pushing is diversity, mild feminism.
Content that may cause concerns:
Dark/selfish thought patterns - I almost stopped reading the book because of the thoughts Amal shares in the first few chapters. Nothing self-harming, but definitely self-serving. Her bad thoughts lead to bad actions with serious consequences, but it really isn't addressed.
Father figure disparaged - Amal is told to keep begging her parents to let her continue school so that they will give into her even though her father wants her to help out at home instead. He is made out to be out-of-touch with the times and holding Amal back. He and his wife argue about the loan he took out from the landlord, it is basically seen as his fault that Amal has to become an indentured servant. He leaves home before she is taken away because he can't bear to see her go.
Sneakiness/Secrecy - Amal sneaks around to see Omar because her mom told her that they couldn't be friends "but that's a rule I can't keep." Sneaks into the landlord's library to borrow books, after being caught (and struck for it), she and some other servants find a way to continue taking books.
Overall attitude that the younger generation knows better than all the adults in the book.
There is no inappropriate language, sexuality, or any romance in the book."
… (more)
MamaBear297 | 40 other reviews | Nov 21, 2023 |
Representation: Asian main character, Jewish main character, side Asian character
Trigger warnings: Racism, antisemitism, sexism, harassment
Read this review for context: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5336250779

6/10, only a few days ago I added this to my list and I hoped that it would be an interesting read, today I finally read this 400-page book and I must admit this wasn't the book I was expecting it to be, what I thought was going to be just a romance turned out to a political, American and preachy kind of book which reminisces of an earlier book I read so where do I even begin? It starts with the two main characters Jamie who is a Jew and Maya who is Asian and has a different religion, immediately there is an election coming up soon and for some reason the book decides to bring up the term "canvassing" and I had no idea what it meant, I had a hunch that it meant campaigning and when I searched it up I was proven correct so there's that. The tensions start to build as the election draws closer and that's where things start to get preachy for starters there is this meme called Fifi the dog and some right-wing extremists used that first on social media and then when they saw stickers that said something along the lines of "Vote Rossum!" they replaced it with a Fifi sticker and that's atrocious enough as it is. I had some thoughts about some irritating aspects of the book such as why did it have to be that drawn-out, tedious and stretch over 400 pages? Why did the book have to shove messages like the fact that discrimination is horrific over and over into my head when I already know that and also it was bothersome that this book aged like milk. There's no mention of social media platforms like Discord but maybe that was more obscure back then compared to right now, Twitter is now called X but it's still called Twitter in the book and Super Mario Odyssey was the hit game in the past but now I don't remember anyone playing it anymore. At least the Nintendo Switch didn't age yet. The situation gets direr when a new law is coming called H.B. 28 which long story short is a racist law and despite all the campaigning efforts the results came in and the Republicans barely won over the Democrats with Newton being the new governor of Georgia. He passed the new law much to the characters' disappointment and this wraps the book up bittersweetly. I couldn't relate to that part since I don't live in the United States of America and politics work differently, where I live there is a Prime Minister, premiers, mayors and other changes. Oh wait, I have one more part I must talk about, the romance and I found more problems with that as well which didn't help the book as a whole, first off are the main characters Jamie and Maya, I could not feel anything for them as they developed an attraction and even then that was put to the side most of the time and I didn't like that Maya had to essentially convert her religion to be with Jamie who is a Jew more. That's a bit overkill and problematic and if you like romances you can try Where the Road Leads Us by Robin Reul.… (more)
Law_Books600 | 19 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
After tragedy strikes their magical town, two teen friends’ relationship evolves into something more.

The premise of FORTY WORDS FOR LOVE caught my attention but unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking the book as I anticipated. The impact of the themes of immigration, refugees, tolerance, acceptance, and community seemed to be diminished by the extremely slow pace, odd worldbuilding, and underdeveloped characters. I wish the overall execution had worked better as there were some meaningful messages that likely would have been stronger.

I liked the concept of FORTY WORDS FOR LOVE but it unfortunately wasn’t a good fit for me. It may work better for other readers interested in YA fantasy/romance/magical realism. This is the first book I’ve read by Aisha Saeed. Despite this one not working for me, I’d still be interested in checking out her other works.
… (more)
bostieslovebooks | 8 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
I enjoyed learning about what Daal really is and the pictures in the book made it exciting to learn more about it.
Kcannon34 | 8 other reviews | Oct 13, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Randa Abdel-Fattah Contributor
Huda Al-Marashi Contributor
G. Willow Wilson Contributor
N. H. Senzai Contributor
Iman Rasheed Illustrator
Candice Montgomery Contributor
Ayesha Mattu Contributor
Rukhsana Khan Contributor
Hena Khan Contributor
Asmaa Hussein Contributor
Ashley Franklin Contributor
Hanna Alkaf Contributor
Sara Alfageeh Illustrator
Tiya Sircar Narrator


Also by

Charts & Graphs