Thank you so much to the author, Saadia Faruqi for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour for ‘A Thousand Questions’ and to her publisher, Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.
A Thousand Questions is a heart-warming, character-driven story of the friendship that develops over the course of a summer between two girls from very different worlds who find that, despite their different cultures and social status, they have lots in common. The voices of both girls are so incredibly rich and authentic that I really felt drawn into their world, and was completely invested in them as they sought to realise their deepest wishes.
I really enjoyed that the story is written from the dual perspective of Mimi and Sakina which allows a genuine insight into both girls’ thoughts and feelings and their interactions with each other. I also loved that, through their eyes, I was immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Karachi, and learnt so much about Pakistani culture and society.
Mimi is reluctantly spending her summer vacation in Karachi, Pakistan as her mother wants to visit her parents there. She arrives against the backdrop of a contentious election campaign to meet Grandparents who she has never met in person. Feeling out of place, she starts a secret journal in which she writes to her father who left the family when she was five years old. I found these journal entries incredibly touching as they gave such an honest insight into Mimi’s feelings as she shares her pain and self-doubt at losing touch with her father, and her desperate need to find him. Will she find the answers to the many questions she raises in the city of Karachi?
Sakina is the cook’s daughter and works in Mimi’s Grandparents’ kitchen alongside her father. She too is keeping a secret from her parents: she has taken exams to allow her get into school; however, she will only be accepted if she gains a better score in her English test. Sakina’s family depend on her for additional income, so she faces a dilemma if she does get accepted for school. Will she have to make a heart-breaking decision between school and family?
Whilst Mimi’s Grandparents are rich and live in a mansion, Mimi’s family live in poverty. The girls soon meet and form a tentative friendship which is at the core of the story. I adored following the girls as they get to know each other, learn about their lives, and help each other to fulfil their dreams. Whilst their differences are apparent, they take the time to get to know each other and discover that they also have lots in common, leading to a close bond filled with honesty, kindness and trust.
I enjoyed so many of the relationships within the story and especially liked the changing dynamics of the relationship between Mimi and her mother and Grandmother. I also adored the warm and respectful relationship between Sakina and her Abba.
This story is rich in opportunities for in-depth exploration of class, cultural, political and religious differences, but is also perfect for discussion around the importance of education, inclusion, friendship and finding opportunities to make a difference.
A Thousand Questions is a beautifully moving and action-packed story of friendship, change and acceptance that welcomed me into the heart of two families, and left me feeling privileged to have been given this rich insight into their lives.
About the Author:
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes the children’s early reader series “Yasmin” published by Capstone and other books for children, including middle grade novels “A Place At The Table” (HMH/Clarion 2020) co-written with Laura Shovan, and “A Thousand Questions” (Harper Collins 2020). She has also written “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan” a short story collection for adults and teens. Saadia is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose, and was featured in Oprah Magazine in 2017 as a woman making a difference in her community. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband and children. (information taken from author website).
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