Today is my spot on the blog tour for the gorgeous Middle Grade book A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi. I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review; this does not affect my opinions.
About the Book
Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score-but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?
Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common-and that they each need the other to get what they want most.
This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.
A Thousand Questions is told from the perspectives of two young girls: Mimi, an American girl visiting her grandparents in Pakistan for the first time, and Sakina, a serving girl who works for Mimi’s grandparents. I loved this dual perspective approach; the girls have very different lives and stories and it made for a fascinating read. I loved the clash of their cultures and seeing them both learn more about the other and their home as their friendship grew. Sometimes Mimi’s ignorance with Sakina’s life frustrated me, but she tries to understand and to learn and they develop a really beautiful friendship.
The story is set against the backdrop of a very contentious election which gets violent at times. I found the political backdrop fascinating; it is so different to politics in the UK and is a great source of anxiety for the adults in the book.
For me, the best part of the book was the family relationships of the girls. Mimi is meeting her grandparents for the first time. Het grandmother is quite cold, very standoffish and concerned with appearances and it takes a while for her to warm up and for us to understand her; her grandfather is a quiet, calm presence in the book and I had a real soft spot for his relationship with Mimi. She has always been close to her mother, but this closeness is tested as Mimi discovers a different side to her mother and secrets about her father that leave her feeling hurt and conflicted. Mimi desperately misses her father, and writes to him in her diary every day. It is difficult to read about how much she struggles with this whilst her mother is dismissing her feelings.
Sakina has a very different life. I loved her relationship with her Abba, and how she does her best to support him. I really felt for her as her dad becomes increasingly ill, leading to financial difficulties which are all the more obvious when compared to the opulent life Mimi’s family have. I loved how this part of the story developed and that there was some hope for Sakina to have a different future and the ability to pursue her dreams.
This is a really beautifully written book with a gorgeous friendship at the heart of it and a great story. Definitely one I would recommend.
About the Author
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes the children’s early reader series “Yasmin” published by Capstone and other books for children, including middle grade novels “A Place At The Table” (HMH/Clarion 2020) co-written with Laura Shovan, and “A Thousand Questions” (Harper Collins 2020). She has also written “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan” a short story collection for adults and teens. Saadia is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose, and was featured in Oprah Magazine in 2017 as a woman making a difference in her community. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband and children.