Text title: Mahtab’s story                                                                                           Author/ director: Libby Gleeson                                                                               Text type: Novel                                                                                                              Date finished: 6.04.18

Inspired by a true story, this novel by Libby Gleeson, “Mahtab’s story,” is about a young Afghani girl and her journey with her family from Afghanistan to Australia. With her mother, her brother, Farhad and her sister, Soroya, we see the struggle of entering a country as an immigrant and how it has impacted her life. She longs to see her dad, who traveled to Australia before them. The desire to see him and the lust for a new life is overwhelming in a world of war.  

Libby Gleeson used this novel to convey the life story of a few young girls experiences with war and being an immigrant. Because it is based on the lives of real people, the depth in language and culture is very accurate and feels authentic. The themes being shown in this text are family, responsibility and religion. Firstly family, the storyline follows the young afghan family and their life before, during and briefly after the war. We see how they struggle with the separation of their family, some fleeing the country while others stayed in Afghanistan till the end. Also it can be seen how the dynamics of an afghan family differ from your average family, the responsibility and worth all put on the men in the family. Women in their culture are an afterthought, a piece of property not a person. In the text, we are made to visualize Mahtab before and after the threats on Afghanistan, her innocence and privilege before the war and after, feeling as though she has lost some of herself on the travel to Australia. Also the responsibility in the family has shifted, now without her father there she feels she has to step up and take care of her family. “ There is no future for us here in Iran,”

There has been more attention being focused on the laws and unsaid rules of 3rd world countries like Afghanistan but this text gives a new perspective on the immigrant lifestyle; a child, previously oblivious now opening he eyes to the culturally unacceptable acts going on around her, in her own village. This connects to the whole world through poverty and immigration, two very big issues in society today.

We follow her as she leaves everything she ever loved behind, in the effort to make a better life for herself and her family. “ we will be together again.. free from fear..” The chapters of their journey to Australia really made me empathise for Mahtab and what she had to go through to escape from Afghanistan, it makes me feel like my life is easy, full of little freedoms that I take for granted. Also this made me sympathise for refugees trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Many don’t survive or arrive to a country just to get deported straight away. From this I feel very blessed to be born in a country like New Zealand that has enough money to protect us from wars and has so little poverty compared to countries like Afghanistan.

This text shows me that although there has been progress made since the downfall of the Taliban, there is still a long way to go in Afghanistan. This shows me that there are many issues like this going on in other countries, that everyone ignores, trying to sweep them under the rug. Issues like these are important and need to be voiced so they can be improved and resolved. This text is only a small snapshot of the awful things happening in 3rd world countries all over the globe. “Mahtab felt as though she had never known another life,” this just shows how normal immigration has become to children in these countries, it’s all they know.  

This text makes me feel an overwhelming amount of sympathy for anyone living in this situation, caught between war and survival, a life of sacrifice.  I cannot imagine a life like hers, I cannot imagine leaving my life behind, never looking back. Overall, from this text i have taken away the message that immigration and discrimination based on race are still big global issues and that the problems i, we, face everyday are in fact not problems at all.

I would recommend this book, “Mahtab’s story,” to students ages 12 to 18. Ideally this is a good book for understanding different perspectives on issues like immigration and discrimination in 3rd world countries and i feel this would make an excellent class study or personal study book. It ties in information and opinion and would be good for informing people of what it feels like to be an immigrant in an unknown country.  

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. very accurate and feels authentic. – give a quote/s
    Can you relate this text to The Kite Runner


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