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BORDERLINE by Allan Stratton


by Allan Stratton

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-145111-9
Publisher: HarperTeen

As in Chanda’s Secrets (2004) and Chanda’s Wars (2008), Stratton explodes with political relevance, this time exploring dangers that are more familiar to American readers—or should be. Fifteen-year-old Sami, a Muslim, lives in a white suburb outside Rochester, N.Y. Schoolmates call him “sand monkey” and bully him. When Sami’s father nervously “can’t explain” why he changes a Toronto father-son trip into a solo excursion, the text subtly invokes contemporary stereotypes to hint at terrorism. The theme slams outward when Homeland Security smashes into Sami’s house one night, tackling Sami, interrogating him in the basement about the Toronto trip and dragging dad to jail. Here the genre jostles awkwardly from YA realism into thriller. Sami’s daring escapades (sneaking across the border; tracking down a hidden alleged terrorist) bring resolution, swapping the plot’s believability for a relieving conclusion. But only the kid-as-hero motif rings fictional—the curtailing of civil rights, the explicit targeting of young Muslim men and the manic, dangerously unchecked power of U.S. and Canadian anti-terrorism forces are deathly realistic dangers in this vitally educational page-turner. (Fiction. YA)