Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Beneath My Mother's Feet - Amjed Qamar Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.As the second of four children of a working-class Pakistani family and the eldest daughter, Nazia has spent most of her life being a good daughter to her mother and preparing for her impending marriage. Then her life falls apart: her father gets in an accident, her brother disappears, her dowry is stolen, and Nazia and her mother are reduced to cleaning the houses of the wealthy. Time passes and the childlike innocence Nazia once had is stripped away from her. There is no room for it when she must work morning to evening to support herself and her family. The lessons she learns about life, who she is, and who she wants to become, she finds a freedom she never thought she could have.At the beginning of the novel, I worried this would not be a good one for me. The writing lacked the resonance and flair that most novels I like have and it moved slowly. As I pushed on and approached the end of Beneath My Mother's Feet, I gained a new appreciation for the messages it is trying to get across and for Nazia's character. I did not forget how difficult it was to keep reading because I was bored and took that into consideration while writing this review, but I'm glad I stuck with it.The novel is mostly character-driven by Nazia and her growth as a character, from a young girl who will soon be married to her cousin Salman and believes whole-heartedly that her father is doing what is best for his family to a woman at the age of fourteen who sees the world is not so lovely and her father does not care about his family the way she believes he does. That she was forced to make this necessary transition so roughly broke my heart a little bit. Beneath My Mother's Feet tends to portray most men in the novel badly, but I can see this is for a greater purpose: illustrating how women are forced to be heavily dependent on the men in their lives. If the men turn against them as Abbu, Bilal, and Uncle Tariq turned against Nazia and Amma, they have little chance of getting anywhere in life or living well. Women are punished (in a manner of speaking) for working to get what they want or need; it makes them less valuable as a wife. Thus the men must support them to keep them from working. What happens when the men do not do what they "should" do? They fall into situations like Nazia's or worse.Their heavily misogynistic culture bothers me and I feel horrible for criticizing their way of life, but it is what it is and I feel the way I feel about it. Oppression in the name of religion or culture sickens me. My support of feminism is deeply ingrained in me as well and reconciling it with the book to an acceptable point so I could enjoy the novel was difficult. Every time I'd gotten there, yet another reminder of how dependent the women are or how they are punished for working to get what they need would make me start all over again. Feminism still has a long way to go around the world.As the coming-of-age tale of a young girl and a social commentary of the difficult dependency of women on men in Pakistan, Beneath My Mother's Feet succeeds and turns out to be a fairly well-written novel and worth the time I've spent on it. I'm glad I didn't give up on it like I considered doing multiple times.