Bijan is a varsity athlete at a Boston-area prep school whose otherwise ordinary life gets disrupted when a cyberbully torments him because of his Iranian-Jordanian heritage.
Bijan’s status as rising star of the basketball team wins him an accolade in the high school paper, new friendships on the team, and, most importantly, attention from girls. It also produces envy and resentment: He wakes up one day to a schoolwide e-mail depicting him as a terrorist. At the heart of the plot is Bijan’s handling of his own emotions: a ferocious motivation to get to the bottom of the story and uncover the mysterious sender, offset by the impossible task of proceeding with his life—and the important upcoming games—as if nothing has happened. The teachers and school leadership are supportive, as is Bijan’s diverse circle of friends (including a black teammate who sympathizes with the shared experience of racism) and his unconditionally loving single mom. Yet the damage is done, and Bijan slowly discovers that not everyone is outraged; worse yet, some might even agree with the unknown cyberbully who strikes again, in a homophobic attack. Fed up, Bijan and his friends launch their own investigation. The novel effortlessly tackles several important societal issues, keeping them in the foreground without detracting from the main focus: Bijan’s entertaining internal color commentary that reveals his thought processes. The result is an engaging page-turner.
Powerful. (Fiction. 12-18)