No two people experience life the same but through the story of Maddie & Sayara Sanjyot P. Dunung shows just how different that can be depending on who you are and where you are born. A story of fate and hope, this activist fiction is a real opener and an inspirational story for people to fight for everyone to be equal.
The story of Maddie & Sayara is about two teenage girls who happen to meet on holiday from very similar but yet very different backgrounds. Unaware of just how different life is for them both, Maddie is shocked to discover that Sayara’s holiday is to be cut short because her cousin Themi is in in jail: Stunned that the reason is for driving a car. As Maddie runs through a list of possible driving offences she is even more confused to learn that the reason is that Themi is female. Being unable to comprehend such a stupid rule Maddie is determined to help her new friend and make the Kingdom more equal for all.
Throughout the story you can hear Maddie’s naivety, and are constantly reminded of her immaturity. She does not stop to think about the consequences of her actions, for herself or anyone else, as she sets off alone to the Kingdom unaware of the rules – but feels what she is doing is right. The irony is the contrast of how she feels towards her own mother, believe that she is selfish and only does what she wants. In Maddie’s mind though, things are different as she feels her mother is only out for herself. I thought this really added to the feeling that the narration was from a teenager, a difficult time in life to understand why our parents behave the way they do. Although, I was disappointed that in the end it seemed to be agreed that the mother character was just self-centred – as if women can only be seen as good if they are helping others and not having time for themselves (in Spas and the like).
I thought that through Maddie & Sayara’s adventure it was great to get to know all the different characters from contrasting lives, and a common goal of so many people wanting what is right and fair in the world. Being realistic the story did not end with a dramatic change but a small step towards equality. I guess Maddie was a key player in this, but it was a slow movement by so much support making it feel as if we can all be responsible for such changes. I felt disappointed that ultimately at the end it was the males who save the day though. Maddie & Sayara is a thoroughly good read which will appeal to adults as well as teenagers; helping to understand what it is like to be born somewhere else, and the difference wealth and gender have on basic freedoms. I knew that women around the world did not have the same experiences as myself due to religion (I have witnessed men outside celebrating weddings where the women have no part, and know of someone who was showered with gifts for having a boy whilst women with girls on the ward received nothing) but I had no idea that things were so bad and that women were actually not allowed to drive. It was actually whilst I was reading Maddie & Sayara that I heard about Saudi Arabia ending their reign as the only nation in the world where women were forbidden from getting behind the wheel of a car.
Maddie & Sayara is available at all good bookshops and online outlets in paperback and eBook formats.
For more information visit: www.maddieandsayara.com
There is also a typo on page 114 where it says, is this tent instead of in this tent.
I received a sample of this book for purposes of review. All opinions are honest and my own.