It’s not every day, the Global Read Aloud gets to host a cover reveal, but today is one of those special day and boy, was it easy to say yes to this! In 2018, the middle grade choice for the year was Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, a book that quickly took our GRA community with storm. Kids around the world learned about Pakistan, about the plight of indentured servants, about one girl’s courage to change not just her own life but the lives of others. We were enthralled, enriched, and invested and so many of us begged for more of Amal’s story. Well, Aisha Saeed heard us and in between all of her other writing, she wrote the story of Omar called “Omar Rising” to be released February 1st, 2022!
What is Omar Rising about?
In this compelling companion to New York Times bestseller Amal Unbound, Amal’s friend Omar must contend with being treated like a second-class citizen when he gets a scholarship to an elite boarding school.
Omar knows his scholarship to Ghalib Academy Boarding School is a game changer, providing him—the son of a servant—with an opportunity to improve his station in life. He can’t wait to experience all the school has to offer, especially science club and hopefully the soccer team; but when he arrives, his hopes are dashed. First-year scholarship students aren’t allowed to join clubs or teams—and not only that, they have to earn their keep doing menial chores. At first Omar is dejected—but then he gets angry when he learns something even worse—the school deliberately “weeds out” kids like him by requiring them to get significantly higher grades than kids who can pay tuition, making it nearly impossible for scholarship students to graduate. It’s a good thing that in his favorite class, he’s learned the importance of being stubbornly optimistic. So with the help of his tightknit new group of friends—and with the threat of expulsion looming over him—he sets out to do what seems impossible: change a rigged system.
Aisha Saeed on OMAR RISING:
Omar Rising is a story about just how high the stakes of education can be— especially for those whom it may be the only ladder out of their difficult circumstances. As the son of a servant, Omar is doing everything he can to succeed at his new boarding school so he can give his mother and himself a brighter future, but as he navigates his classes, he discovers exactly how unjust his new school is and the power of collective activism to affect change. While Omar’s story is set in Pakistan, as a former educator in the U.S., I’ve witnessed firsthand both the challenges— and the resiliency— of my students as they worked to overcome their own inequitable circumstances.
Are you ready for the cover reveal?
How can you pre-order it?
Please consider supporting your local independent book store to pre-order this book. You can also order it through Bookshop.org, a website dedicated to funnel book orders through local independent book stores and paying them a larger percentage than other known large scale book sites. However you choose to order it, I know one thing to be true; Aisha’s words changed so many perspectives in Amal Unbound, I know Omar Rising will change many too.