Title: Wanting Mor
Author: Rukhsana Khan
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Concepts: scarcity, child schooling and work, gender and development, jobs, working conditions
Review: Jameela had already experienced so much hardship as a youngster living in Afghanistan during the Taliban's stronghold and then the American invasion. She lived in poverty and had no education, she had lost a number of family members to violence and disease, and she had to deal with the inevitable stares when people saw her cleft lip. Then on the most devastating day of all, her mother died after a brief illness. With virtually no time to grieve the loss of her Mor, Jameela was forced to leave the village with her drug-addicted father for the capital city in an ill-conceived plan to find new work.
Life for Jameela in Kabul was grim and dismal as she worked under slave-like conditions, first in a temporary situation and then in the household of a surly woman who her father had suddenly married. The step-mother despised Jameela and instructed her new husband to abandon Jameela in a busy Kabul market. Inexplicably, he complied, and Jameela was left completely and totally alone. Ultimately, it took the kindness of strangers, inspiration from her strong faith, memories of her precious Mor, and the power of an education to turn her life around in the most surprising and ironic of ways.
Wanting Mor stands out as a mesmerizing book with lively characters, heartbreaking plot developments, and incredibly rich cultural content. Jameela's plight is representative of the wide-scale devaluation of the social and economic status of women and girls in Central Asia, which has led to the abandonment and neglect of unwanted girls. Based on a true event, this book provides testament to the depths of the problem and the possibilities for change.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children