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Broken Moon

Broken Moon

5.0 1
by Kim Antieau

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Nadira is spoiled goods. Scars from a beating she received for a crime that her older brother allegedly committed tell the world that she is worth less than nothing -- except to her little brother,



Nadira is spoiled goods. Scars from a beating she received for a crime that her older brother allegedly committed tell the world that she is worth less than nothing -- except to her little brother, Umar, who sees beauty in her scars and value in her.

But Umar is gone -- perhaps kidnapped or maybe sold. All Nadira knows is that Umar has been taken into the desert to ride camels for rich sheiks. He could be lost to her forever.

For Umar, Nadira will risk everything. So she disguises herself as a boy and searches out the men who took him. They are not hard to find, and soon she, too, is headed to the desert to be a camel jockey.

Life in the desert is more brutal than Nadira imagined. All she has to protect her and the boys she meets are a bit of chai tea, some stories, and the hope that she has enough of both to keep going until she finds Umar.


Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Myrna Marler
This story focuses on a girl's life in Pakistan and on the little-known practice by wealthy Bedouins of kidnapping children to race desert camels, forcing them to live in internment camps until they are too big or too dead to be of further use. The fact that the novel brings attention to their plight makes it valuable on a teacher or librarian's shelf. Other than that, the plot strains credulity in that it ends happily after an improbable series of events. Fourteen-year-old Nadira was the victim of an honor rape by a group of men taking revenge for her older brother's misconduct. Her father lost his business and died. Her older brothers fled. Her mother is reduced to depending on avaricious Uncle Rubel for handouts, and Nadira, knowing she can now never marry, works as a maid in a rich woman's house. When Rubel sells Nadira's younger brother Umar into camel-jockey slavery, Nadira cuts her hair, dons boy's attire and goes on a search-and-rescue mission. She discovers the violence, hopelessness, and exploitation that takes place in the camel camps. Being a hard-working girl, she soon organizes the younger boys into a more effective labor force and devises ingenious strategies for protecting the boys in her tent from older sexual predators. Fortuitously, Nadira also has a gift with animals, and soon her camel is running faster than anyone else's. Camel jockey stardom eventually brings its sweet rewards thanks to a kindly Sheikha's intervention. Although the story deals with brutal circumstances, the narration is not graphic and, in fact, the level of storytelling is suitable for a younger audience.
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Nadira works and assists the cook in the home of Begum Naseem and her husband, Tariq Saleem, in order to help supplement her family's income. Her mother and younger brother Umar must live in Uncle Rubel's home. Baba (the father) has passed away but left Nadira and Umar each a blank writing book with their names and a brief inspirational message inscribed by him. In the book, Nadira records her stories to share with Umar. She explains the scar that she received for a crime that her older brother Rahman was accused of committing. More importantly, she recounts her search for Umar, who is taken by the smugglers to the camel camps to ride in the Sheikh's camel races. Disguised as a boy, Nadira volunteers to be a camel jockey and must endure many hardships as she seeks to locate Umar. Nadira's deep compassion and love for her young brother play powerful themes in the story.
School Library Journal

Gr 8 & Up - Scarred physically and psychologically by Pakistani traditionalists who avenged her brother's alleged assault on another girl by cutting his sister's face and body, Nadira accepts that she has been ruined. Now 18, she focuses her love on her 6-year-old brother, entertaining him with stories from "A Thousand and One Nights." Her father is dead and she works as a servant in a Karachi household to support Umar and their mother, who live with cruel Uncle Rubel. When he sells Umar to kidnappers who take children to the desert to become camel jockeys, she disguises herself as a boy to follow him. In the Bedouin country she tames young bullies as well as the fastest camel, hoping to be allowed to go to the races where she might encounter her brother and win their freedom. Nadira's forbearance and skillful storytelling make her sad situation bearable, and the romantically happy ending will satisfy readers caught up in her life. The first-person account is presented as a narrative written for Umar to read at some later date. Details of Nadira's daily life are smoothly woven in, but they are not the sort of thing-descriptions of clothing and the ingredients for masala chai, for example-that would ordinarily be emphasized by a sister writing to her brother. Although this is clearly an outsider's view of life in Pakistan and on the Arab peninsula, it may entice readers to explore that world further.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Six years after she was scarred in a brutal attack-sanctioned by the elders of her Pakistani village as punishment in an interfamily dispute-Nadira, 18, labors as a domestic servant in Karachi, supporting her widowed mother and little brother, Umar. (The cover photo of a demure, beautifully groomed teen seems to belong to a different story.) When Umar is kidnapped, sold as a child jockey to race camels for wealthy sheikhs, Nadira vows to rescue him and, disguised as a boy, becomes a jockey herself. Slow to start, the story takes off when the action shifts to the jockey training camps but is hampered by its awkward epistolary format, which distances readers from the action and drains the narrative of suspense. Nadira is the most fleshed-out character, yet much about her remains a mystery: What is her religion? Why is the Persian A Thousand and One Nights her primary cultural referent? In a story billed as fact-based, important details are omitted: How does the trafficking system work? Who owns the jockeys? Are the camps and race tracks in or outside Pakistan? No glossary or extra-narrative explanation is provided. And although the subject matter is geared to young adults, the elementary vocabulary and simple syntax appear designed for younger readers. A well-intentioned but flawed execution of a fascinating story. (Fiction. 12-14)
From the Publisher
"Antieau's moving story...allows readers to experience the sounds, tastes and smells of [Nadira's] native land." — Publisher's Weekly, starred review

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

May 30

Dear little brother, you whispered when you gave me this pale green book with the blank pages. You didn't want Uncle Rubel and our mother to hear us talking. I don't know why. Ami wouldn't care. But Uncle Rubel? Is he mean to you when I am away? At least he gives us a place to live. I don't want to speak ill of any of our relations, of course, but I am not certain Baba liked him either. I miss our father so much. Will we ever get used to him being gone, Umar?

I wish you remembered when we lived in the village, before the bad thing happened and we had to move to Karachi. Baba owned a store and was well respected. We had a house. It was small, but I had my own room. At this time of year, you could smell the wildflowers that grew in a small patch near the spring, especially these blue flowers shaped like bells. Ami called them bluebells, and Baba would laugh and ask if she could hear them ringing. Ami had several saris and dupattas then -- made from the softest silks, with the most becoming colors. She was much admired, our mother. But then our brother Rahman was accused, and I got hurt. That is not the story you want to hear tonight, though, is it? You wanted me to write stories about my life in Begum Naseem's house (where I work as a servant) and then read them to you when I visit on my day off.

I will try to do that, little brother. You are only six years old. I know you will not like hearing this, but you are too young for some things. Like the story of how I got hurt -- even though you are the only person I have ever let touch the scar on my face. You said, "It looks like the new moon we watch for at the end of Ramadan." You grinned. "That's the time when we get to feast and celebrate. Just like I celebrate every time you come home!" And you asked if it hurt. I told you no, but it does hurt. Every time I look in the mirror -- which is not often -- and I move my dupatta away from my cheek, my heart hurts to see what they did to me.

Why am I talking about this? It must be Uncle Rubel. I do not want to be unkind, Umar, but he reminds me of the men from the village. And that makes me shudder. I don't like him talking to Ami about money. I give her all my pay, little as it is. It must be enough to pay for you both, plus our brothers send money. Or they used to. I am not certain now what they do.

Anyway, you gave me the little green book and showed me your little red book. I wonder how long it was before he died that Baba packed the books in the bottom of that box where you found them today. Baba had written "Nadira" on the first blank page of my book and "Umar" on the first blank page of your book. "Remember Shahrazad," he wrote to me in the green book. "Learn wisely," he wrote to you in the red book. Do you think he knew he was going to die? It was very hard for him to lose everything. I was only thirteen when we left the village. He tried for four years to make our life better here. I think it hurt him that our brothers did not come home to help. Maybe they never realized how bad things had gotten.

I don't think I will read you everything I write here. I am writing too many sad things, even though I don't feel sad. Fatima, another servant here, is snoring next to me. I should be sleeping, but I am remembering telling you stories tonight before I left, like Baba used to tell me when I was your age. He taught me to read and write, too. I hope Ami sends you to school and doesn't listen to Uncle Rubel. You should not be working at your age! Whatever happens, I will make certain you learn to read and write. Fatima found me a pencil to use to write in this little green book. I can hide it in the book and put both in my pocket.

Tonight I told you the story of Shahrazad, the very wise and beautiful woman who saved herself and all the young women of the kingdom. The King was mad with grief because his first wife betrayed him. He would not risk another betrayal, so he took a new wife each night and had the new wife killed each morning. One day, Shahrazad asked her father to put her name forward as the next bride. Her father tried to talk her out of this dangerous course. She told him that she had learned all her lessons well. "Trust me," she told her father. Her father eventually did as she asked. The King and Shahrazad married.

In the morning, she asked her husband for one last favor. Could she tell her sister one last story? He agreed. And she told the story, and it was night again. So he spared her life that night. And she told another story and another. Each night for one thousand and one nights, Shahrazad told a story that saved her life, until the King finally decided she had told enough stories and he allowed her to live. That's how we got Alf Layla wa-Layla, A Thousand Nights and One Night. Even though Baba says Shahrazad was not a historical person, I believe someone like her existed. Maybe many someones like her.

When Baba first told me this tale, I said, "A King can kill people?"

Baba said, "A King can do anything. But he has someone he must answer to -- even if it is his own conscience. Everyone has someone like the King in their lives. Shahrazad was clever. She didn't wait for her fate. She went to the King and said, 'Let me tell you a story.' And she saved her own life. No sense crying and wailing over how terrible your life is. Someone always has it worse. Someone always has it better."

Before you went to sleep tonight, Umar, you said, "I want to see the moon."

"But we have no window," I said.

You gently pulled my scarf away until you could see my scar. I leaned down, and you kissed it. I will never have a husband, and I will probably always be a servant in a household like this one, but I have the best brother in the world. Your breath on my cheek -- on my scar -- felt like the breath of Allah.

You said, "Promise you will never leave me."

"I promise," I said. "Promise you will never leave me."

"Never," you said.

Good night, sweet brother. Dream of the two of us flying on a magic carpet, will you? We are flying far far from here.

Your loving sister, Nadira

Copyright © 2007 by Kim Antieau

Meet the Author

Kim Antieau is the author of Mercy, Unbound. She lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.

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Broken Moon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SinAngle More than 1 year ago
Nadira is a girl who hold a moon scar on her face even tough she know she 18 she know one would marry and scarred girl. Her father had dead and now all she have left is her mom and some friends. Her brother is the only one who believe that her scar is not ugly and she love hims for that.... but now her Uncle had sold her brother ..... in order to get her brother back she cut her dress as a boy and try to follow the path to her brother. With the help of some 1001 stories...