Azra is sixteen, smart and knows how to get what she wants. She thinks. When she wins a place in a national science competition, she thinks her biggest problem is getting her parents' permission to go. But she doesn't know they're busy arranging her marriage to an older cousin she's never met. In Pakistan. In just three months' time.
Azra always thought she'd finish high school with her friends and then go on to study science, but now her dreams of university are suddenly overshadowed. Can she find a way to do what she wants, while keeping her parents happy? Or does being a good daughter mean sacrificing her freedom?
When I read the back of my advance sample copy of this book I was shocked to learn that over 100 under 18’s are forced into an arranged marriage nationally each year. Young girls taken by their families overseas, mostly against their will to marry someone who they may never have met, for reasons like family ties, opportunity and often migration prospects.
I read this book all at once as the storyline was compelling and the characters appealing. You can’t help but like science fan Azra and wonder where her Pakistani background of strong family bonds and female obedience will lead.
Her older brother Rashid is in trouble with the police and her dominant Uncle who catches and punishes Azra for whispering to a boy at school decides it’s time for fast action. This leads to Azra discovering plans of her impending marriage to her much older cousin in Pakistan. Can she really go through with this? What will happen to her family if she refuses?
With a frightening and fast paced ending, this was an exciting and thought provoking novel, ideal for any teenagers. It shows cultural diversity in the extreme and should be widely read in school groups as an excellent resource on this topic. I strongly recommend this title!
Reviewed by Rob