Jaimie Richards spent whole her childhood in Pakistan where she adjusted well to local culture and traditions. At the age of 16 she returns to her homeland, Australia. The girl feels more Pakistani than Australian though, and is having problems to accommodate to new place, fit into school environment and comprehend the rules of daily life.
This is a great young adult book. I strongly believe many young people could identify themselves with Jaimie. While the author shows the difficulties of young people coming or returning to Australia, the story refers to every person who tries to fit to the new culture. It might be Pakistani coming to Australia, Turkish coming to Germany, or Polish coming to The Great Britain. Regardless the origin of people, problems and difficulties are universal.
From Jaimie’s letter we learn how painful the changes are for a young person:
Dear Pakistan I have heard about what people go through when someone dies. Well, that is what I feel like right now. Something is dying.
Surprisingly, Jaimie’s parents are very passive characters. In fact, they play minor roles in her life. They appear here and there but I got impression they do not care or are unable to help their child, who goes through tough time. On the other hand, it happens in today’s world that teenagers deal with the pain on their own and sometimes parents are simply hopeless and cannot connect with their children.
Jaimie reminds the readers that there is also positive aspect of living in different culture:
But that experience of living in a different culture from you own is one of the most enriching things that can happen to a person. You have a different perspective on life from the one you would have had if you had been brought up here.
The author highlights that there are places like Pakistan, where life is very simple and places like Australia, where many people get into a trap of consumerism. Nevertheless, Hawke praises Pakistan too much sometimes. To illustrate, when Jaimie compares Australia to Pakistan she describes the latter in the following way: “It was being fair that mattered there”. With all due respect for Pakistan and people who live there, women’s life is neither fair nor easy in Pakistan.
The author reminds about sad true that in many cases immigrants are perceived by host country as less educated and less valued. As a matter of fact, not all of immigrants want to live from social benefits; many migrants are well educated, hardworking and could contribute to the host countries’ societies and economies. However, they are not treated fairly like some of people coming to Australia: “Another brilliant guy driving a taxi because his experience wasn’t recognized.”
The narrator is Jaimie herself. Each chapter devoted to her life in Australia is followed by letter to Pakistan. I don’t understand why the author went for this construction. I think it would be much better for the book if she wrote about Jaimie’s life from third person perspective and Jaimie’s letters would bring a breath of fresh air.
And a few words about the book cover. It looks like Jean Sasson’s books about women in the Middle East. When my husband saw the cover he said this books is about European woman married to a Muslim. In fact, any book about Middle East involving women has the same predictable cover. Since this is young adult book, I would like to see a young girl not mature woman. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the cover is not beautiful but I expected something more ambitious.
Dear Pakistan is a great read. I would strongly recommend it to any young person who have difficulties to adjust to the new place. On the other hand, people who never changed their place of residence might find this book helpful to understand the problems of immigrants.
Overall rating: well-deserved 5/5
I received the book through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.