Title: Ramadan without Daddy
Author: Misbah Akhtar
Publishers: Djarabi Kitabs Publications
Ramadan without Daddy is a story of a young family who learn to live without Daddy around because Mummy and Daddy have separated and divorced.
The book brings to the forefront the emotional struggle and the changes that a family go through when a couple separate and it tries to deal with them in a child friendly manner.
The book begins with Danyal, the younger of the two children, asking where Daddy is. His sister Khadija explains that Daddy no longer lives with them because Mummy and Daddy are divorced. Mummy then explains that sometimes it’s better for Mummies and Daddies to live apart because living together makes them sad and unhappy.
There is a striking imagery about how if you try to place the right puzzle piece into the wrong hole, then it will never fit, no matter how hard you push it. And the harder you push you will not only be hurting the puzzle (metaphorically speaking) but you will end up hurting yourself too.
The story then develops into how the children cope without Daddy and how Mummy is coping, or not coping in some cases, without having Daddy around.
The book then ends with how Ramadan comes round and it is their first Ramadan as a family without Daddy at home. It’s sad because Mummy and the children miss having Daddy around but they make a promise that even though Daddy is not here, all will be ok and that they will deal with it as a family and become happy again.
Ramadan without Daddy deals with the very difficult issue of divorce in a Muslim family, which seems to have remained a taboo subject, even though the rate of divorce among Muslim families is steadily on the rise.
It’s a good book to teach Children that not all families have two parents and that sometimes parents do separate and things in the home can change. You can speak to children about friends and neighbours that may have faced divorce in the family and how they should be sensitive towards them if they are a bit down or sad.
Through the book you can also teach children about single parent families, step families, and even some families where grandparents or others are the primary carers of children. Although this book deals specifically with divorce, there are other reasons why children may only live in one parent families, for example the death of a parent, or a parent living abroad and so on.
Having said all of the above my only concern with the book is that it focuses a little too much on the negative impact that divorce can have on the family and how sad it can make everyone in the home.
Although in the end it gets to the part where things are starting to look better, I would have expected another page or two dedicated to how Mummy becomes Mummy again and cooks nice food for Iftar, and how Daddy starts to visit again and take the children for visits a few days a week. The father rarely features in the book other then in what Mummy says about him or in the children’s imagination of him in far away adventures.
A little more focus on the outcome and how things get back to some sense of normality would have left a more balanced message from the book.
Maybe it’s because I am a man that my judgement is slightly clouded, or probably because I have never had to go through the ordeal of divorce in my life.
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