Amal loves school and dreams of becoming a teacher when she grows up. She has to put her education on hold for several weeks after her mother has a hard time recovering after giving birth. Amal takes over the running of the household while trying to keep up with her studies. One day at the market she has a run-in with the village landlord, a man known for his vile temper and crooked business practices. As punishment, all her father's debts are called in and Amal is forced to go work as an indentured servant in Khan's house until she has worked off the family bill.
There is so much hype about this book and I've read so many tweets from people talking about how meaningful it is to them that I definitely went into it with huge expectations. With that lead-in it is probably not surprising to hear that I was not as impressed as everyone else seems to be. Amal's story is good and full of many opportunities for us to be SO grateful for life in the West (assuming that's where you live) where education is a right, not an option. I'm sure my students couldn't possibly imagine a world where one fight with someone over a piece of fruit could lead to you sacrificing your entire future. For all those reasons, I like this book. Where it fell short for me was in the actual writing which is not bad, but not gripping, either. I should have been on the edge of my seat what with the police showing up and the revelations about Amal's new life and the betrayals from others, but I wasn't. And the ending was happy but much too neat - a point that the author makes herself when she writes that for most people in Amal's situation there is no easy out.