by Aisha Saeed
When the system is broken, you have to rise up!”
Every 5th grader in our school loves engaging with Amal Unbound as an interactive read aloud. We were so excited when Aisha Saeed published her companion novel, Omar Rising, this month.
Omar was first introduced to audiences through his friendship with Amal in Amal Unbound. Their relationship proves to be key to Omar’s major turning points as he learns that finding your voice and advocating for what is right can break the societal chains of class and privilege.
The gulf between me and the other students seems to grow bigger and bigger every day. Faking it until I make it is starting to feel like trying to fire a rocket ship to the edge of the ever-unfolding universe. Impossible.”
As the son of a servant, when Omar is accepted into Ghalib Academy on scholarship, he assumes the weight of the responsibility for paving a way to a better future for his family. Upon arrival at the prestigious school, Omar quickly learns that students on scholarship must fight the strong opposing current of restrictions, limitations, and additional responsibilities in order to prove their right to a Ghalib Academy education. Breaking the cycle of oppression of living in a caste-bound culture, seems almost impossible until Omar learns that success is not about rising through the system, it is about changing the system itself.
We might be in the same classes, but we are from different classes. Ghalib Academy want to make sure we never forget.”
Omar Rising is an accessible novel, that pulls young readers in from the very first chapter. Through the experience of Omar, Saeed teaches about the impact of systemic oppression. She conveys themes of optimism and hope as communities, those with and without privilege come together as allies to create change.
One person might make a difference, but all of us? They can’t look away… We started the year alone. But somewhere along the way, we found a community.”