Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women.

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HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY

What happens when both the place you come from and the place you are feel distant and unaccepting?

These are the questions Nima sets out to answer. A 14-year-old, working-class, Muslim, immigrant kid raised by a single mother in suburban America—that’s Nima. They left their unnamed homeland (contextual clues point to Sudan) in pursuit of a better life, one that didn’t seem to find them. But Nima’s mind often wanders back to her roots, to the Arabic songs she listens to on cassette and old photographs of her parents—things she longs to be a part of. At school, Nima is bullied for her accented English, her obvious poverty, and her mother’s hijab. Haitham, the neighbor boy who’s more like a sibling, goes to the same school and is Nima’s only friend. But one day Haitham is beaten up in a hate crime, winding up in the hospital hooked up to machines. The abyss between Nima and her mother begins to grow as Nima learns more about her father’s absence. Elhillo’s novel, which contains light fantastical elements, tells the story of a Muslim girl traversing post–9/11 America with the baggage of a past she does not yet fully understand. The vivid imagery creates a profound sensory experience, evoking intense emotions in a story that will resonate with readers from many backgrounds.

Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17705-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

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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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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  • Newbery Honor Book

LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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