Amina: The Silent One by Fiza Pathan
Reviewed By Hilary Hawkes for Readers’ Favorite (Five Stars)
Fiza Pathan’s novel Amina: The Silent One is the story of Amina, born into the grim poverty of an Indian slum. As a girl she is considered “a burden.” Nevertheless, her parents Jaffar and Rahat want all their daughters educated. Amina is a silent, contemplative child, and her parents encourage her extraordinary talent for music. When Rahat and her other daughters are killed in suicide bombings, Amina’s grandmother, Khadijah, insists that the girl is eventually married off. Poor Amina becomes imprisoned as a sex-slave in the house of husband Iqbal and his cruel mother who run a prostitution business. She suffers incomprehensible abuse until Iqbal hears her play the flute. Seizing her chance to escape, one day she flees to the one person and place she knows will offer safety, and from there she begins her journey of healing, and her training and emergence as an accomplished musician.
Pathan’s writing is exceptional, and this book is a revelation into what life is like in the Indian slums and more, particularly the inhumane ways in which girls and women are viewed and treated by many in Indian society. The author holds nothing back in her harrowing descriptions of appalling abuse. The result is an eye-opening, gripping and heart-breaking story. Pathan has a captivating writing style. The characters she creates are totally real to the reader, and the world in which they live becomes very vivid too. I love the quote by Maria Augusta von Trapp at the start of the book: “Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens,” which speaks of the healing properties of music. Amina’s music not only softens the hearts of her abusers, to some extent, but also propels her forward and prevents her soul from being completely broken. Amina: The Silent One is a powerful story with a message that needs to be told, one that will stay in your mind. It deserves an award.
Copyright Reviewed By Hilary Hawkes for Readers’ Favorite