Fuses the mystical past with a teenager’s complicated present through a richly rendered world of Jewish prayer and ritual.

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THE PROPHETESS

Rachel doesn’t think of herself as an especially observant Jew, but when her 87-year-old Orthodox grandfather dies, her relationship to spirituality begins to shift.

Although her extended family practices Orthodox Judaism, Rachel’s mother became less observant when she met Rachel’s father, who is not religious. For Rachel and her older sister, Beth, a dedicated dancer, Judaism has not been their priority. The Baltimore high school student prioritizes her academics, writing poetry, and close female friendships. However, Rachel starts to experience visions—direct messages from G-d—and begins to uncover a mystical power deep within herself. After learning more about Judaism from Yonatan, an intense, charismatic stranger she meets at synagogue, Rachel starts to meditate, accessing her gifts more deeply until she goes to Israel, where she actualizes her powers. Toggling between Rachel’s daily life and her visions, this story exquisitely accomplishes a partnership between the divine and the quotidian. Debut author Marzouk integrates Jewish practice, philosophy, and mysticism into a complex yet accessible coming-of-age story. Though Rachel’s visions are described in less rich detail and language than her worldly life, the excitement over her realizing of her powers carries readers through the character-driven narrative.

Fuses the mystical past with a teenager’s complicated present through a richly rendered world of Jewish prayer and ritual. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61088-504-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate.

LOVE, HATE AND OTHER FILTERS

High school senior Maya Aziz works up the courage to tell her parents that she’s gotten into the film school of her dreams in New York City, but their expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a terror attack threaten to derail her dream.

Maya, the only brown girl in her school with the only immigrant parents, loves parts of her Indian culture but blames everything she thinks she can’t have on her cultural constraints and on the fact that she’s different. Time is running out to break the news to her parents that her filmmaking is more than just a hobby. Meanwhile, two potential love interests command her attention. Her matchmaking parents like Kareem, an intriguing young Indian man Maya meets and dates, while Phil, a white classmate who’s been her longtime crush, remains a secret from her parents. Interspersed with Maya’s intimate first-person account are brief, cinematic interludes tracking a disturbed young man who commits a terror attack. First reports blame someone who shares Maya’s last name, and the backlash they suffer leads her parents to restrict Maya’s options. Maya is not especially religious, but she is forced to grapple with her Muslim identity as bullying takes a dangerous turn. Her feelings of entrapment within her parents’ dreams are laid on thick, and Maya herself notes a clichéd moment or two in her story, but the core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying.

A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61695-847-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A reminder that even in a world filled with divisions and right-wing ideology, young people will rise up and demand equality...

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INTERNMENT

Layla was a regular American teenager until the new Islamophobic president enacted Exclusion Laws.

Muslims are being rounded up, their books burned, and their bodies encoded with identification numbers. Neighbors are divided, and the government is going after resisters. Layla and her family are interned in the California desert along with thousands of other Muslim Americans, but she refuses to accept the circumstances of her detention, plotting to take down the system. She quickly learns that resistance is no joke: Two hijabi girls are beaten and dragged away screaming after standing up to the camp director. There are rumors of people being sent to black-op sites. Some guards seem sympathetic, but can they be trusted? Taking on Islamophobia and racism in a Trump-like America, Ahmed’s (Love, Hate & Other Filters, 2018) magnetic, gripping narrative, written in a deeply humane and authentic tone, is attentive to the richness and complexity of the social ills at the heart of the book. Layla grows in consciousness as she begins to understand her struggle not as an individual accident of fate, but as part of an experience of oppression she shares with millions. This work asks the question many are too afraid to confront: What will happen if xenophobia and racism are allowed to fester and grow unabated?

A reminder that even in a world filled with divisions and right-wing ideology, young people will rise up and demand equality for all. (Realistic fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-52269-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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