A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs
What a fabulous debut! I’ve been meaning to get back to reading YA, it’s been months, and i picked up this ARC ahead of release day and was immediately drawn in by Maya’s voice. It’s so clear, that voice. Being in her head we see the things she had to face as a Muslim/Indian teen in America. Dealing with her parents expectations for her versus what she wants, and ultimately Maya wants to go to film school in NYC.
Alongside Maya’s voice we have snippets of narratives that build another story simultaneously while Maya is telling her own. As things come to light we see a terrorist attack occurs and this is such a serious, timely discussion. The terrorist is initially thought to be Muslim so Maya and her family get first hand taste of Islamophobia in their community. This is something many Muslims in America, and other parts of the world, have to deal with daily and the author shows this so well. Maya dealing with slurs from a student, her parents having their practice vandalized, her parents fear for their daughter and themselves. I was genuinely scared for Maya and her family.
We also see Maya navigating her crush on a classmate and dealing with family expectations when she meets a guy who’s everything her parents would want for her. i genuinely liked both guys, Kareem and Phil and i think the ending of the book was just perfect. I’m not giving it away so don’t worry 😉
Maya’s love of film making shone through in everything that she did, and thought and felt. i loved that! I love when the MC’s love of a thing is so clear in every little action they perform. And i love that this story is told through the lense of a Muslim/Indian teen, written by a desi author, because these are the voices that need to be centred in this sort of narrative.
I’m eagerly awaiting Samira Ahmed’s next book!