Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?
Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most.
This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.
Faruqi (A Place at the Table) deftly explores Pakistani culture through the dual perspectives of Mimi and Sakina, two girls from different backgrounds. Eleven-year-old Maryam "Mimi" Scotts lives in Texas with her Pakistan-born single mother, after her American father, who is white, left them to further his journalistic career. Financial difficulties have forced them to return to Karachi, her mother's birthplace, to visit the grandparents Mimi has never met. In Karachi, 11-year-old Sakina's diabetic father is a servant for Mimi's grandmother, whose callous pride alienates her dependents; Sakina helps him in the kitchen but longs to attend New Haven School, whose admissions test she has already failed once due to a low score in English. After a rocky beginning, the girls start to grow closer: Mimi agrees to help Sakina improve her English, and Sakina helps Mimi locate her father. Cultural differences complicate the budding friendship: humor is occasionally lost in translation, and both are initially quick to condemn the other's lack of cultural knowledge as ignorance. But the likeable heroines develop a touching connection that enhances the fast-paced plot and counterpoints tense situations with their families. The novel's observations about other societal issues including religion, politics, wealth, and marriage add thought-provoking touches. Ages 8 12. \n