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Hilarious, charming, and much needed.

Fahmy’s fictionalized graphic-novel memoir explores the complexities of identity and what it costs to be pleasing.

When Egyptian American Huda and her family move to Dearborn, Michigan, she finds that suddenly she is far from being the only hijabi in her school. At a loss, Huda realizes that she has always adapted to accommodate others instead of finding her own interests. Although she fears that her personality was defined by being different due to her hijab, she also doesn’t fit in with the hijabi athletes, gamers, and fashionistas at school or with her masjid peers, since her parents previously emphasized cultural assimilation. Even her position as the smart sister in her family is challenged as Huda faces academic challenges and a teacher who is hostile toward Muslim students. Fahmy comedically captures Huda’s embarrassing moments, conflicting desires for validation and acceptance, and the sarcasm she uses as a coping mechanism when facing everyday Islamophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, and microaggressions. Neither does the author shy away from reflecting on Huda’s internalized Islamophobia, self-hate, and moments of cowardice as she grows and learns. Background Muslim characters show different skin tones and female characters wearing different styles of hijab as well as those who do not. The full-color artwork shows stylized, cartoon-style figures whose minimalistic features emphasize the emotions shown by their facial expressions. A variety of lettering styles signals background commentary, humorous asides, sound effects, and more.

Hilarious, charming, and much needed. (author’s note) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32430-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions.

A teenage girl refuses a medical procedure to remove her heart and her emotions.

June lives in a future in which a reclusive Scientist has pioneered a procedure to remove hearts, thus eliminating all “sadness, anxiety, and anger.” The downside is that it numbs pleasurable feelings, too. Most people around June have had the procedure done; for young people, in part because doing so helps them become more focused and successful. Before long, June is the only one among her peers who still has her heart. When her parents decide it’s time for her to have the procedure so she can become more focused in school, June hatches a plan to pretend to go through with it. She also investigates a way to restore her beloved sister’s heart, joining forces with Max, a classmate who’s also researching the Scientist because he has started to feel again despite having had his heart removed. The pair’s journey is somewhat rushed and improbable, as is the resolution they achieve. However, the story’s message feels relevant and relatable to teens, and the artwork effectively sets the scene, with bursts of color popping throughout an otherwise black-and-white landscape, reflecting the monochromatic, heartless reality of June’s world. There are no ethnic or cultural markers in the text; June has paper-white skin and dark hair, and Max has dark skin and curly black hair.

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions. (Graphic speculative fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780063116214

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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From the unOrdinary series , Vol. 2

Another page-turning volume with intriguing character development.

The stakes skyrocket in this thrilling series continuation.

John, the school zero, finds himself growing closer to the boy who’s his polar opposite in their private school’s social hierarchy—but Arlo’s intentions may not be as pure as John’s. While John genuinely wants to befriend him, Arlo might be more interested in pushing John’s buttons in order to see whether he’s really as powerless as he claims. While John ultimately makes an irreversible decision, Seraphina makes her own momentous choice: She’s done being controlled by her family, and her friendship with John motivates her to follow through and persist until she’s free. Though they have an emotional, much-anticipated reunion, going back to school might not be so easy now that Seraphina is being targeted by a mysterious group who pose a serious threat to her life. The higher-ups in the school hierarchy start to suspect that there’s more to the militia group EMBER, who are targeting superheroes, than the press lets on. The complex characters are neither clearly good nor unambiguously evil, and their problems and the dangers they face escalate in this volume as relationships become more strained and complicated, bringing people to their breaking points. The bright, colorful illustrations bring to life this intense story, which features exciting pursuits and even more thrilling fight scenes. The art strongly expresses characters’ emotions, particularly during battles.

Another page-turning volume with intriguing character development. (extras) (Graphic adventure. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780358521228

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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