Saeed, Aisha

Omar Rising

(2) 4-6 In this companion to Amal Unbound (rev. 11/18), Omar, son of Amal Khan's house servant, wins a full scholarship to attend seventh grade at Ghalib, "one of the most prestigious schools in Pakistan." There, Omar dreams of joining the soccer team and astronomy club, but he quickly learns that all of the "SBs" (Scholarship Boys) must maintain an A-plus average and cannot join any extracurricular activities their first year. They must instead do chores (grounds maintenance, kitchen work, laundry duty), all tasks that are deliberately intended to remind them of their status. As a result, many SBs lose their scholarships and become "Ghost Boys" who never return to school. Omar, inspired by the work and activism of real-life contemporary Pakistani artist Shehzil Malik (who created the eye-catching jackets for this book and Amal), challenges the system instead of accepting its cruel logic. By speaking up about the unfair conditions and forming a community with other students, he reveals how Ghalib makes it impossible for underprivileged students to succeed. An uplifting story about an underdog whose work ethic and "stubbornly optimistic" outlook drive him to make real change for himself and others while gaining the confidence that no matter what other challenges life brings, Omar "will be okay."


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