A humorous, hip look at the ups and downs of fasting for Ramadan within the context of intergenerational and cultural...

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BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER.

When a 15-year-old contemporary American Muslim from a “half-way religious” family opts to observe Ramadan, she has no idea how difficult and rewarding it will be.

As Ramadan begins, Almira vows this will be her “first successful month of fasting” after last year’s disgraceful encounter with some Oreos. Her grandparents “follow Islam to the tee,” and her parents are “pretty religious,” while Almira’s only “sort of religious” and one of just two Muslim students at her Miami-Dade high school. Her parents have high expectations, including medical school and an arranged marriage, but Almira’s focused on her weight, hair, braces and boys. Ready and determined to have a boyfriend despite parental prohibitions, Almira has a crush on classmate Peter, but so does her best friend, who disses her when Peter chooses Almira. Ramadan proves to be a “month of discovery” as Almira sheds pounds and gains an “inner pool of strength.” She chronicles her Ramadan experience from beginning to end in a breezy banter that progresses from the shallow to the insightful as she learns humility, patience and the importance of faith.

A humorous, hip look at the ups and downs of fasting for Ramadan within the context of intergenerational and cultural challenges. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7387-2323-5

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A resounding success.

CONCRETE ROSE

This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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