On The Money by Tariq Saleim is a thoughtful story with an interesting theme: The power and balance of money. What is it that makes those from affluent backgrounds take so much for granted, while others work so hard and get nowhere in life? What happens when you have more money than you could possibly need?
Asad starts his day in the slums of Lahore, Pakistan, and inadvertently stops a kidnapping, but is attacked and left for dead. The two young women he saved, Samia and Natasha, decide to take him in. Lucky for Asad, Salman, Samia’s father is a rich businessman who had a savior in life at a young age. Now he will do the same for Asad by teaching him everything he knows about making money in his office. But his lessons are surprising: the balances of the world and the human spirit must be kept in line, for money takes away as much as it gives.
On The Money’s Book One has interesting concepts, but does often cross the line into seeming more like a book of the author’s on philosophy on money rather than the character’s ideas, because the concepts often come as pages of lecturing from Salman as he trains Asad. The book has similarities to Sophie’s World, but this time, instead of a girl faced wih concepts of emotion and relationships, we have a boy being trained in economics and spiritual wellbeing. Book Two sees Asad all grown up in Singapore, living the high life, and here we learn more of what Asad has put into practice in business. This combined with a classic unrequited love story, the information is lifted into a more attractive presentation by the relationships around Asad.
However, would this book have been better as a non-fiction work? Maybe. I wonder if there are two books here woven into one: a love story/thriller set in Asia’s money industry and another book about money and the philosophy behind it, even straying close to the edge into opinions on religion in places. Sometimes the book gets engrossed in figures and profits and how certain companies achieved success, and then flits to a soap plot with baby fathers and affairs in fancy hotels. Both are well-written and presented stories, but do they go in the same book? It’s a serviceable marriage. It means that younger people will find it considerably more interesting than your run-of-the-mill economics book, and that means this is an especially great read for any young adult interested in money and how it works. Concepts are broken up by TV-style relationship sagas in high-end locations, and it’s nice to have the diatribes broken up. Maybe there would be some benefit in a content edit, but it’s really down to who the author is targetting and whether the book is in the tradition of a guidance manual in fiction form, which I suspect is the case.
This is an entertaining hybrid read either way, with a real insight into Pakistani and Singaporean modern life from a man that, refreshingly, actually lives in the places his characters do, and so knows first-hand all the details only ‘writing what you know’ can bring to the table.
Saleim has also done a fine job of presenting the work with a sleek design and font that makes the book devourable in just a few sittings. An unusual work that deserves a look for sure especially for the cultural aspects, with food for thought for anyone looking for a lighter read on the human condition in a more and more global society.