Book review: Amal Unbound, by Aisha Saeed

Saeed, Aisha. Amal Unbound. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018. 226 pgs. $17.9 ISBN: 978-0-399-54468-2. Gr. 6+. P8 Q9

Twelve year old Amal lives with her family in a small village in Pakistan. Amal dreams of becoming a teacher and studies hard to achieve this dream. Being the oldest in a family of girls comes with responsibilities. Her mother gives birth to a baby girl but does not rebound from the delivery. Amal must stay home taking on most of the household chores. A mishap in the streets with a local rich man puts her and her family in jeopardy. Amal’s dreams are dashed when she becomes a servant in the rich man’s home. She will be in service till he decides her debt is paid.  It is through Amal and those in service to the rich lord that the corruption is stopped and the War Lord is arrested.

Verdict: I loved this book which offers a window into the lives of the Pakistani people.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Breakthrough! How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever, by Jim Murphy

Murphy, Jim.   Breakthrough! How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever. Clarion,  2015. $18.99   ISBN: 9780547821832. 130p. Grades 5-12. P5 Q9

Murphy BreakthroughThis engaging book is about of open-heart surgery in the U.S. in the 1940’s, specifically surgery to treat a structural heart defect known as tetrology of Fallot, one of the causes of “blue baby” syndrome. While the book presents a clear description of how this syndrome was discovered and treated, the outstanding feature of this book is how the author managed to bring in issues of racial and sexual discrimination and how overcoming those at Johns Hopkins played in to the success of this surgery. In particular, the background information presented on gifted surgeon Vivien Thomas, an African-American laboratory assistant at Johns Hopkins, illuminates his incredible dedication under the duress of racism. Though the book is written for lower grades, it’s fascinating and challenging enough for adults.

January 2016 review by L.F., NHS Staff