A vivid account exploring issues many immigrant teens face.

ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE

Pakistani Muslim Zara, an openly queer senior in Corpus Christi, Texas, handles not only being Muslim in post–9/11 America, but also being an immigrant.

Contrary to assumptions, Zara’s family is wholly accepting of her bisexuality. Instead, it’s her girlfriend Chloe’s Christian family that’s having a hard time coming to terms with their daughter’s sexuality. Zara knows how to navigate the racism of her Catholic school classmates, but when bully Tyler starts harassing Maria, a new student from Colombia, she can’t stay silent—and Tyler wants revenge. After the family awakens one night to find a racist message defacing their garage, Abbu, Zara’s father, immediately heads to Tyler’s house, certain he is the perpetrator. In a twisted set of events, Abbu is shot by Tyler’s father, winding up in a coma while facing criminal charges for trespassing. The incident does more than just rattle the family: It directly threatens Abbu’s employment, their immigration status, and the notion that the U.S. could ever be a safe home. Khan unapologetically tackles prejudice in its various manifestations—anti-immigration, homophobia, Islamophobia—while simultaneously engaging openly with the complexities of accountability. The myriad forms of oppression the most vulnerable face in our society intersect in the character of Zara, challenging readers to ask what it means for some to feel at home in a country whose systems feel built to exclude them.

A vivid account exploring issues many immigrant teens face. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-58087-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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