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Iqbal, a novel

by Francesco D'Adamo


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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D'Adamo's brief book, his first published in the U.S., packs an emotional punch in a novel also inspired by the life and work of Masih. Narrator Fatima is a bonded servant in a carpet factory in Pakistan, where she and a dozen or so other children work from dawn until dusk with little food or water, handweaving carpets that make their "owner," Hussain Khan, wealthy. Into their factory steps young Iqbal. A stunning act of bravery nearly kills him but also plants a seed of rebellion in his fellow workers; another turn of events exposes just how corrupt and deeply ingrained the country's system is. D'Adamo's prose is straightforward, almost reportorial, but the author also carefully chooses hauntingly poetic images that reflect the children's plight: an open window too high for the children to view, and later, when hope begins to bloom, a kite. D'Adamo pays fitting respect to Iqbal's name and bravery with this eye-opening, genuinely touching novel. Ages 8-12.

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 4-7-Thirteen-year-old Iqbal Masih was murdered in his Pakistani village in April, 1995, a few months after he had received an international prize and traveled to Sweden and the United States, speaking about his six years as a bonded child in Lahore carpet factories. The murderers-perhaps part of the "Carpet Mafia"-have never been caught. In smoothly translated prose, D'Adamo retells the boy's story through the eyes of a fictional coworker. Also sold into servitude to pay her father's debt, Fatima worked in Hussain Khan's carpet factory for three years and had forgotten almost everything about her previous life. She had grown used to the long hours, the scanty rations, the heat, and the cramped quarters of a life spent tying carpet knots and sleeping beside her loom. She and the others in the workshop are stunned when Iqbal appears and tells them that their debts will never be paid. He tries to convince the children that their situations can change and he escapes to the market where he hooks up with members of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front. Fatima doesn't come alive as a character in her own right, but the situation and setting are made clear in this novel. Readers cannot help but be moved by the plight of these youngsters. This thinly disguised biography makes little effort to go beyond the known facts of Iqbal's life. Nonetheless, his achievements were astounding, and this readable book will certainly add breadth to most collections.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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