Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Broken Moon by Kim Antieau

By night a weaver of tales, by day a scarred, scared young women.

As 18 year old, Nadira writes home to her little brother, Umar, she slowly reveals through her letters and stories her sadness at her unmarriageable status due to scars inside and out. The most prominent - a half moon scar on her face - left by an assault, allowed by Pakistani traditions, as revenge for her brother’s alleged assault on a rival family’s daughter.

When her brother goes missing, Nadira is convinced her cruel Uncle Rueben has sold him to the camel riders as an illegal child jockey. Feeling she has nothing to lose, Nadira dresses as a boy and sells herself to the camel riders, hoping they will take her to the same camp as Umar. Instead, she is taken to an desert camp where bullies gradually wearing down the new boys spirits. During the day Nadira trains for the races, and takes care of the camels with the other boys, hoping to go to a race and find her brother. At night she resourcefully tries to protect her little group from the bullies. In a final attempt to stop them from being attacked, Nadira makes an offer of peace with masala chai and stories from the Arabian Nights.

As her friendship with the bullies and her usefulness to the camel riders grows, Nadira begins to come to terms with herself and learns that even emotional scars can begin to heal.

Antieau's breathtaking story of loss, determination and the power of tales, can not fail to leave readers moved. Narrated through letters to her brother, the past and present are skillful woven together with the life and the traditions of Pakistan, highlighting the hideousness of child slavery and assault.