Wanting Mor

Wanting Mor

4.5 4
by Rukhsana Khan

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Winner of the Middle East Book Award, Youth Fiction category

Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her faith and the strength of her


Winner of the Middle East Book Award, Youth Fiction category

Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her faith and the strength of her beloved mother, Mor.

But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela's father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul. He remarries, a situation that turns Jameela into a virtual slave to her demanding stepmother. When the stepmother discovers that Jameela is trying to learn to read, she urges her father to simply abandon the child in Kabul's busy marketplace. Jameela ends up in an orphanage.

Throughout it all, it is the memory of Mor that anchors her and in the end gives Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them into her life again.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
This is a poignant story about what happens to a young girl named Jameela after her mother dies. The rituals of death that took place in 2001 in Afghanistan are well portrayed and pull the reader into the lives of the people living there at that time. I enjoyed the fact that the story is told from the first person and felt like I was being read to. Jameela's father remarries a woman who does not like Jameela. Eventually her stepmother tells her husband that the child must go and never come back. After much thought, Jameela's father takes her to a crossroad in the village and tells her he will return but never does. After two days with no food, a butcher befriends her and takes her to his home where his wife helps her. Eventually Jameela is placed in an orphanage where her life undergoes major changes. The author writes in such a way that the reader wants to keep reading; I finished this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It is written with great insight and combines "matter of fact" suffering with hope, kindness, and compassion. The author even includes a dictionary of unfamiliar Afghanistan words used throughout the book. I am not often as moved as I was when reading this book. I highly recommend it and hope that readers will share it with friends. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
VOYA - Marla K. Unruh
As Jameela waits for her mother, Mor, to wake up, she sweeps the dirt floor and washes dishes with ash from the fireplace. Finally she makes a cup of tea with buffalo milk the way Mor likes it, and pushes open the door to her room. Mor is lying too still, and Jameela realizes that she is dead. In the ensuing grief and disruption of their lives, Jameela's father decides that they will move to Kabul. There the devout girl must not only deal with her father's loose behavior, but also with a mean and hateful stepmother who wants her gone. Jameela carries Mor's love and advice in her heart as she faces the hardships of being abandoned and forced to live in an orphanage. Through her eyes readers see an Afghan society conflicted in its expectations for women. Jameela clings to her Muslin faith and rituals while around her women practice various degrees of Westernization. Yet Jameela wants to learn to read, and in the end, her love of learning is liberating. Although the storyteller's tone is a bit flat, her descriptive language is lovely at times. Her characters are realistic, and in fact, this short novel is based on actual events. The Pushto phrases that stud the first-person narrative may slow some readers, but a glossary is included. Young readers' eyes will be opened to life in another culture. Reviewer: Marla K. Unruh
VOYA - Colby Smith
Wanting Mor is about a young girl living in the hills and the capital of Afghanistan, right after the U.S. invasion. Jameela is stuck with an opium-addicted father and a cruel stepmother in the city of Kabul. After she is abandoned, she goes on a wild journey through life in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Teens will enjoy this book, especially if they liked Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson. Reviewer: Colby Smith, Teen Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews
This short novel looks at life in Afghanistan just after the fall of the Taliban. When Jameela's devout mother dies, her father-who has always strayed from the rules, dabbling in opium, skipping his prayers-abruptly moves them from the country to Kabul, where he lives a more Westernized lifestyle (alcohol included) and has little patience-especialy after his new wife complains-for a daughter who is unattractive, devout and a bit too good to be true. So he abandons Jameela at an orphanage. Khan's tale was inspired by true events, and touches on many issues about women and beauty in an Afghanistan in the midst of chaos and change, but Jameela lacks depth: Her faith often stands in for character, and even when she questions, she merely questions why she can't be better. Secondary characters sometimes behave according to plot needs rather than character, and the passage of time and other minor details are often unclear. Despite the flaws, this fills a niche and does so with respect for the people and places described-and with sometimes downright lovely language. (author's note, glossary) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Groundwood Books Ltd
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she is an expert on books with international and Muslim themes. She has presented at schools and communities across Canada and the US, as well as at the 2006 ALA Conference in New Orleans and the 2008 IBBY Congress in Denmark. Her book, Wanting Mor won the Middle East Book Award. Rukhsana lives in Toronto with her family.

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Wanting Mor 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I was hooked. I definetly think it is worth reading. Just make sure before you read it, you realize what it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book but I was not a fan of how it ended. Over all though this a great book. It touches your heart
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title convays the way this book is written (not particuly well). It does give a good insite on the life of an indian girl. Overall not bad but not really worth reading.