Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan
“If you can’t be beautiful, you should at least be good.” These are the words that Jameela, a young girl living in Afghanistan after the American invasion, carries with her long after her mother has gone. When her mother dies, her drug addicted and abusive father takes her away from their small village to the city of Kabul.
At first they lived in a home where Jameela was treated as a servant. Then her father disgraced himself and they were forced to leave. Then he remarried. At first, Jameela looked forward to being part of a family again. Unfortunately, her stepbrother was a good person, but her stepmother was not. First she treated Jameela as a slave. Eventually she convinced Jameela’s father to take Jameela to the market and abandon her.
Thanks to the kindness of a shopkeeper, Jameela ended up in an orphanage. Incredible as it may seem, this ends up being a very good thing. In the orphanage Jameela goes to school, learns to read, makes friends, and has surgery to repair a cleft palette.
Through it all Jameela struggles to live up to her mother’s ideal and be good. Eventually she grows into a strong independent person who realizes that she must take charge of her own life.
Based on the true story of a girl who ended up living in an orphanage sponsored by the author, this book is well written and engaging. I was drawn into the story from the first paragraph and remained completely engaged till the end. Jameela is the kind of character you can’t help but like, admire, and feel compassion for.