Nazia doesn’t mind when her friends tease and call her a good beti, a dutiful daughter. Growing up in a working-class family in Karachi, Pakistan, Nazia knows that obedience is the least she can give to her mother, who has spent years saving and preparing for her dowry. But every daughter must grow up, and for fourteen-year-old Nazia that day arrives suddenly when her father gets into an accident at work, and her family finds themselves without money for rent or food. Being the beti that she is, Nazia drops out of school to help her mother clean houses, all the while wondering when she managed to lose control of her life that had been full of friends and school. Working as a maid is a shameful obligation that could be detrimental to her future — after all, no one wants a housekeeper for a daughter-in-law.
At first, I thought Beneath My Mother’s Feet would be a good portrayal of what it means to be beti, or a good girl, in Pakistan, the importance of a dowry, and the division between classes. Nazia experiences all of this after her father refuses to find a job and she and her mother are forced to seek work. The only work they can find is house cleaning, a job that gets them no respect and makes Nazia ashamed.
But mostly the story revolves around Nazia’s revolting father and her no-good brother — the men in her life who dictate who she is and what she does — and her realization that she can depend on no one but herself and her mother. Nazia must decided between following her dreams or following what her father tells her to do, along with deciding how to help a servant boy she befriends. Her problems are realistic, but Qamar doesn’t solve them and the ending leaves a lot to desire because it’s less of an ending and more a …
- Qamar, Amjed. Beneath My Mother’s Feet. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 2008. Print. 189 pgs. ISBN: 9781416947288. Source: Library.