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)