Mud City ISBN: 9780192753762
Published by O.U.P., 2003
Shauzia is 14. Though a girl, she dresses like a boy, finding this easier in the refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan where she finds herself after leaving Afghanistan. Mrs Weera, in charge of the widows section at the camp, is as feisty and difficult as Shauzia, and the two do not get on. When Shauzia runs away to find work in Peshawar, taking her dog Jasper with her, she lives on the streets and finds occasional odd jobs. The other street children teach her to beg and scavenge, but when she is thrown into jail, she finds herself in a cell with boys. Rescued by a kind American family, Shauzia lives a life of luxury with them for awhile - until she invites other street people into their home while they are away and almost wrecks it, not understanding that they cannot house everyone who needs help. Taken back to the camp, she begins to realise that her dream of getting to France with Jasper is not going to come true, and when Mrs Weera decides to take nurses back into Afghanistan at the beginning of the Afghan War, Shauzia opts to go with her. The sights, sounds, smells of the camp, the heat and dust and crowded conditions there and in Peshawar are graphically described, and Shauzia, who will always be irritable and difficult, is a heroine to remember. This is a sequal to two other books also about Afghan refugees - The Breadwinner(ISBN 0192752847) and Parvana's Journey (ISBN 0192753487).