Parents' Guide to

Beneath My Mother's Feet

By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Pakistani teen resists arranged marriage in riveting read.

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Despite its heavy topics, this is a fast, compelling read. Nazia's good heart and spirit balance her many legitimate complaints about the unfairness of her circumstances. The lush details of smells, foods, and clothing in Beneath My Mother's Feet transport readers to this fascinating place, but young readers may struggle to understand how children "all follow whatever path our mothers have laid out for us. ... Nobody cares if you're happy."

The author, who lived in Pakistan for several years, offers a realistic -- if bleak -- picture of poverty and oppression, with Nazia's mother willing to beg for a place for her children to stay after they lose their home. Younger readers might need additional explanations for several cultural references, such as the dowry. With its strong family relationships, interesting cultural details, and girl-empowerment theme, this would make a great pick for a mother-daughter book club. The tantalizing dishes mentioned (from naan to curry to spiced rice) and a bounty of discussion topics (friendship, duty, women's rights) leave plenty to chew on.

Book Details

  • Author: Amjed Qamar
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: June 17, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
  • Number of pages: 202
  • Last updated: April 16, 2021

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