Review by: Erin Wilson
Zara Hossain is the friend you always wanted in high school: tough, caring, and loyal. Like any teenager, she is finishing her senior year alongside her best friends, with a promising romance, and hopes for a prosperous future; not to mention, she is true to herself: a Muslim bisexual Pakistani immigrant. Zara lives in Corpus Christi, Texas with her parents. Her father is a reputable doctor and her mother runs a book club and cooks delicious Pakistani food that her best friend Nick can’t get enough of.
Tensions at school arise as Tyler Benson, a star athlete, targets Zara. Islamophobia is real and Zara is dealing with it the best she can without involving her worried parents. “I’m exhausted from the burden of representing almost two billion people,” Zara says to herself in response to Tyler’s tirades at school. A hate crime, racist vandalism, unnervingly exposes itself at their home. Her father bravely confronts the aggressors that leads to a fateful event that threatens his life and their future residency in the United States.
Zara is the hero of her own story despite these life challenges. She moves through the social obstacle course with confidence because she knows, “I can withstand a lot, as long as the people I love are by my side.” Seen throughout her story, her parents affectionately support her in all her endeavors, including her friends and girlfriend. They thread together the strength and forbearance to negotiate life’s challenges. Ultimately, being on team Zara is where we all want to be.
This affirmative high school immigrant story is what we’ve been waiting for and need now! Justice prevails but not always as we hope for.
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2021
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About the Author:
Reviewer: Erin Wilson
Erin Wilson currently works in Dhaka, Bangladesh as the Whole School Librarian serving grades K-12. She reads, bakes, and travels fearlessly with her teenage daughter. They’ve adopted a very sassy street cat too. Follow her on Twitter: @travel1ibrary.
Curator of the second #IntlYALitMonth at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative:
Linda Hoiseth is the high school librarian at the American School of Dubai and has previously worked at schools in the US, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Peru, Qatar, and India. She has a B.S. in English and Secondary Education, an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a graduate certificate in School Library Media. She’s an IB workshop leader and is currently a member of the ECIS Libraries Special Interest Group. She’s a fierce advocate for all students to have access to all the books. Follow her on Twitter.