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Most young girls dream of growing up, meeting Prince Charming, and living happily ever after. But 14-year-old Nazia's future in Pakistan was predetermined, and dreaming is a luxury she can ill afford. She will marry her cousin Salman, live in his family home, and be an obedient wife. The most she can hope for is a loving husband and a kind mother-in-law. Until her dowry is complete, she's focused on doing well in school. But in life, things don't always go as planned. Nazia's father is injured at work, and her older brother disappears. The next thing she knows, she's yanked out of school and forced to clean the houses of the more privileged alongside her mother to put food on the table. With her father's increasing disinterest in working, her family quickly loses the humble surroundings they call home. Incensed, Nazia can hardly believe the nightmare her life has become: the father she loved has all but abandoned them, and her mother is a shadow of her former self.
For the first time, Nazia begins to think about life in terms of choices, and to question the path chosen for her. As she wrestles with the obligation to do what is expected of her, and with her own desires, she hatches a plan -- and a kernel of hope for her own future begins to take hold. (Fall 2008 Selection)