Written by Andaleeb Wajid
Published by Duckbill Books
Maria Suleiman is 16, a 10th grader. Two months short of her final exams, her mother disappears. She just leaves a post-it note on the fridge, addressed to Maria's father saying, "Leaving you and the kids", and that was that. There was no explanation, trace of her, no way of knowing what had precipitated this, and where she had gone, and no way of contacting her. Even her mobile phone was switched off.
Things soon went into a downward spiral, as the family was a typical one where a mother is an SAHM, completely dependent on her for the day-to-day functioning of normal life, other than, of course, the angst of losing a spouse and mother to unknown circumstances - the cover picture is representative of that, a sofa strewn with sundry items.
Maria, unknown to her father and her younger brother, 14 year old Saud, decides to take up the mission of finding her mother. After all, things, she thinks, would be fine once her mother is found and back in the family. Her father would not be so angry and sad all the time. He would not fall for the pressure to re-marry from meddling family members. She would not feel so lost all the time, unable to mix with her peers. Life at home and at school wouldn't be so complicated. And with whom could she talk about the growing friendship with Kabir, the Basketball Guy, as he was called at school? And what was the mystery of her mother's growing association with their neighbour Sharmila just before she went missing? Was her mother just being selfish by going away as she did, or was there a reason behind that? How does she go about finding the answers?
The author touches upon many things in this book. The utter dependency of a family on a home-maker mother and wife. The motives of a woman who might want out for her own reasons that clash with her responsibility as mother and wife. Society as it looks at such incidences. The way a man accepts the worst scenario as an answer where a wife is concerned. Teen motivations and peer pressures.
This YA mystery-cum-romance by Andaleeb Wajid is her eighth book, her first with Duckbill books. I've enjoyed all her books to date, and her prose keeps the reader engaged, wanting to find out what happens next. I couldn't let go of this book until I finished it, and the end is a clear indication that a sequel is in the offing, for we are left at a crucial juncture of Maria's story. I, for one, certainly want to find out what happened next, and will be rooting it.
Image credit : goodreads
Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publishers for this. This is, however, an unbiased and honest review of the book.