A girl lives in Azad Kashmir with her younger brother following the deaths of the rest of her family due to border violence in this novel, part of the UNICEF-produced Through My Eyes series.
Young teen Shahana is a talented seamstress; this skill garners a meager living for her and her 9-year-old brother, Tanveer. They live amid the constant fear of ongoing fighting and the threat of sale into slave labor or forced marriage by menacing Mr. Nadir, the shopkeeper to whom she sells her embroidery. When they come upon a boy named Zahid unconscious by the river, she's terrified but is convinced by Tanveer to take the chance of helping him. Shahana quickly realizes that he's ostensibly her enemy, from neighboring Jammu and Kashmir, but also discovers that they have much in common: they are both Muslim, both plagued by horrific loss wrought by the conflict. If their discussions at times feel a bit conspicuously expository in their recounting of the many political details at play in their struggle, they are also genuinely moving, and the novel strikes a believable balance between an ultimately hopeful tone and the many realistically agonizing situations faced by its extremely sympathetic narrator. A simple, clear map of the setting, a short glossary, and a timeline round out the book.
An informative and effective work of contemporary fiction. (Fiction. 13-18)