After a devastating earthquake, a Pakistani mountain boy is inadvertently sold into slavery.
All 14-year-old Abdur-Razaq Nadeem wants in life is to herd goats and sheep in the Kala Dahka (Pakistan’s Black Mountains) in peace and to one day be married to the lovely Feeba. But when an earthquake wipes out both his immediate family and his bride-to-be, he remembers his father’s dying words urging him to find his Uncle Javaid in Rawalpindi. In the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, Mrs. Daud, Feeba’s mother, confusedly accepts money from a man promising to find Razaq a good job in the big city. Though he’s soon tangled in a series of horrific work situations, each worse than the last, Razaq never gives up hope of reconnecting with his uncle, and his uncle never gives up looking for him, despite the seemingly impossible odds of success. Telling her story in the third person, Hawke is unflinching and explicit in her descriptions of Razaq’s experiences with forced labor, sexual exploitation and violence. Readers will be drawn into Razaq’s predicament, and they will admire his mountain-wolf–like determination to survive.
This riveting story depicts the heartbreaking lives of children caught in a harsh world of trafficking and prostitution. (Fiction. 14-18)