Marina Budhos' extraordinary and timely novel examines what it's like to grow up under surveillance, something many Americans experience and most Muslim Americans know.
Naeem is far from the model teen. Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they're not the only ones watching. Cameras on poles. Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.
Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything - until his mistakes catch up with him, and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero - a protector - like the guys in his brother's comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?
Acclaimed author Marina Budhos delivers a riveting story that's as vivid and involving as today's headlines.
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- Janet K.
Great Book for High School English Learners
Each year, I choose a novel to read with my advanced ENL (English as a New Language) classes, grades 9-12, many of whom are refugees. There are not many books about Arabic speakers or students from the Middle East or Southwest Asia. All of my students were able to relate to the "other" in this story and it was especially of interest to my Arabic speakers. All of them are familiar with profiling and my Arab speakers experience the additional stigma of many people (even other refugees) assuming they are extremists. They read along with the audible book and they giggled at some of the voice characterizations - but they ARE high school students after all. Once we go into the book, they settled in and enjoyed the narration. Some of the characters' futures were left unresolved, which was another reason I chose this book. This made for some great discussions in class. All of my students thought it was a good choice and would recommend it to other students.