I’m a huge fan of Saadia Faruqi‘s work. Her books are as wonderful as she is, which is why I’m thrilled to be able to interview her about her newest middle-grade novel A THOUSAND QUESTIONS.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score–but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?
Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common–and that they each need the other to get what they want most.
This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.
Doesn’t it sound fantastic? Let’s hear from Saadia…
Saadia, what inspired you to write this story?
A few summers ago, I was visiting my birth country Pakistan with my children. I observed their reactions as first generation American kids not quite fitting in yet wanting to identify with their heritage. I realized that a lot of children grapple with this dual identity because their parents or grandparents are from “somewhere else”. This discovery became the start of A Thousand Questions.
Are any of the experiences of these girls based on your time in Pakistan?
Mimi, the American girl is based loosely on my two children during their summer break. The story is made up, but her reactions and emotions are very much similar. Sakina, the Pakistani servant girl, has some similarities with my own life growing up. I was lucky enough to go to school but the stressors of poverty and living in a difficult political environment are very familiar to me.
What was the most challenging part of writing this story?
It was probably the easiest book I’ve written, because the story and characters came so easily to me. The challenge was making sure everything was current. I left Pakistan more than 20 years ago, and lots has changed since then. I had to do some research to make sure everything I wrote was accurate and timely.
Friendship and family are big themes in this book. Why did you want to write about these topics?
Both these topics are my favorites to write about in all my books, whether it’s the early reader series YASMIN or my middle grade novels. I see my own children work on these issues as they grow up in the U.S. and I feel that writing these stories can help a lot of readers work through their struggles as well.
I love the cover for A THOUSAND QUESTIONS. Tell us about it.
I love it too! It’s created by the talented Aaliya Jaleel, who’s illustrated many children’s book covers over the years. It showcases both main characters Mimi and Sakina, but the real gem is the backdrop of buildings that actually exist in Karachi, where the story is set. Many of these buildings are infinitely familiar to me, and bring back memories of my childhood.
What can we look forward to next?
The Yasmin series continues with 4 new titles this year. And I have a new middle grade novel coming in September 2021 called Yusuf Azeem is not a Hero. It’s based on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone soon.
Thank you, Saadia!
I LOVE the Yasmin series, and Yusuf is Not a Hero sounds really great. Look for them soon. But right now, check out A THOUSAND QUESTIONS at your library, or buy it through Bookshop.org and support independent bookstores.
Saadia’s also giving away a signed copy of A THOUSAND QUESTIONS in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Enter as many times as you’d like. The giveaway ends on Feb. 4 and is open to U.S. only. Enter below…