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In Boy from Three Worlds by Farida Mirza, we meet Waris, a young teen living in the United States or Canada, going to school, having lots of friends and playing soccer just like so many other kids. But Waris’s parents come from Pakistan and Afghanistan. While his loving mother, a doctor, seems to well understand and has adapted to living in North America while still embracing her cultural background, Waris’s father, a cold and uncommunicative man, does not like Waris being part of the usual teen life, even though Waris is a very good kid, a nice and kind kid.
Waris’ father takes a work assignment in Pakistan, near the border of Afghanistan where he originally lived. The father insists that Waris leave school and come with him for seven months. Neither Waris nor his mother wants him to go, but it is part of their culture that, what the father demands the family must do.
Waris is unhappy but resigned. He turns down a top position on the school soccer team, gathers all his school assignments and accompanies his father to Pakistan.
He really hopes to improve his relationship with his father, but his father becomes even colder, spends no time with him and harshly demands that Waris spend all his time on his schoolwork with no one to talk to or help him with problems.
Through the eyes of author Farida Mirza we see the beauty of the mountainous region bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and we hear the wisdom of Waris’s mother to try to understand his father. But we struggle along with Waris as he struggles with schoolwork and his father’s unrelenting apparent lack of care.
Waris becomes so behind in his Math class that his father agrees he can go to the local school for tutoring a few days a week. Waris is bullied for being different, but he does eventually make three friends, one an American girl, a Pakistani American boy and an Afghanistani boy from school.
And he slowly begins to unravel the secret his housekeeper has been hiding. She is an escapee from Afghanistan. She is hiding her young daughter in Pakistan, but her young son is still in Afghanistan.
Impulsively Waris declares he will rescue the young boy, and does so with the concerned advice of his young friends and the unknowing father of one of them. Luckily, that foolhardy bravery works and his housekeeper’s family is reunited and safe.
But the biggest impact is on the relationship Waris has with his father. Seeing Waris’ compassion for the housekeeper, the father explains his own sad family history, and both come to an understanding of each other’s similarities and differences.
This is a story set in a small village on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the scenery is beautiful, but there is an underlying uncertainty and threat. Waris’ relationship with his father is sad, but also sadly universal. In the end, your teen will know more about the world and the cultures that are part of the make-up of the United States and Canada. And your teen will gain understanding about why some parents are so broken and difficult.