There’s a line in Patricia McCormick’s book Sold where the mother says any man is better than none.

It’s an interesting line because there are indeed some women who feel that way.

In fact in writing Wanting Mor, I thought the stepmother was a bit like that too. But actually my stepmother is much more calculating than that. She decides she needs the labour that Jameela’s father can bring, and she underestimates his dependency on drugs. That’s why she marries so beneath her.

I’m afraid my original ending of the book wasn’t very satisfying.

It was to me, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have been to readers.

It was my daughter’s Afghan sister-in-law who gave me the better ending. She was only about seventeen at the time too.


Basically she was wondering why the stepmother didn’t kick the father out.

It’s what many women in North America would have done, and yet it didn’t occur to me that this stepmother would do such a thing. It was a too ‘liberated’, too western thing to do. Maybe I’d seen too many movies like The Color Purple where the women really are helpless under the tyranny of men.

And yet, it made perfect sense.

The man was an addict, and I believe, that once he abandoned Jameela, he started using dope much more. There might have been a grace period right after he married the woman. She was richer than he, so it’s natural he would want to impress her by being on his best behaviour, at least for a while.

But after abandoning Jameela in the marketplace, I’m sure his conscience would bother him, and since he’d always used drugs to escape from his reality, it made a lot of sense to me that he would retreat even more into getting high.

Well like I said, my daughter’s sister in law said why wouldn’t the stepmother just kick him out?

I thought that had intriguing possibilities!

If he were kicked out, wouldn’t he now return to Jameela and see if she wouldn’t take care of her dear old dad?

It would be a chance for Jameela, unlike so many girls in similar situations, to have the kind of closure everyone craves.

And it would be a chance for her to really realize that she was, in fact, better off without him.

I must confess too, that it was one of those rare times that I was also thinking about all the North American children who might be read the book and be going through something similar.

I have done the presentation on Wanting Mor all across the country and I’ve taken to asking the students I’m presenting to if they know of anyone whose father ran off with another woman and is now a dead-beat dad.

I ask them this question because this scenario was playing out within my extended family and became one of the reasons I wrote Wanting Mor.

I’m careful in how I ask the question. I’m perfectly aware there might indeed be some kid in the class whose father is a dead beat, so by asking if they know of anyone, it lets them off the hook.

Most of the time half the kids will put up their hands.

Dead beat dads have become an epidemic in our society!

I knew the situation was bad, but I never realized it was this bad!

So when Jameela ends up rejecting her father’s offer to join him, staying put in the orphanage because she knows she has a better chance there, she also comes to realize that in fact that all her yearning for being back together, for having a father, for not being so socially stigmatized, was not in her best interest.

And I hope, that any youth reading the book, comes to realize this too.

That basically you can find other people who will encourage and support you.

I hope there’s a deeper purpose that Lakshmi, in Sold is going to experience. I really hope that the story isn’t just a sensationalized airing of dirty Indian cultural laundry.

I’m already a bit disappointed.

Lakshmi is a bit too eloquent to be believable. I think Ms. McCormick should have kept her language more simple.

There was one prose verse entry that just didn’t sound like a twelve year old could have written it.

Oh well. I know. It’s a nitpicky thing, but still.