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THIS BOOK WON'T BURN

A timely story about silence as complicity, defending freedom, and the courage to fight against hate.

Reeling from her father’s sudden abandonment of their family, Noor’s mother moves her family to a small Illinois town far away from their life in Chicago.

Noor hopes to lie low and finish out the last quarter of her senior year, but she and her younger sister, Amal, are noticeably among the few Indian American and Muslim students at school. Once Noor learns that the school district has removed over 500 challenged books from the library shelves and slated them for committee review—mostly ones by marginalized writers—she feels compelled to act. She and her like-minded new friends protest by reading aloud from these books in public spaces. They also put up a “fREADom Library” (or Little Free Library for censored books), spreading the word on social media and encouraging others to join in. Their activism angers school administrators, students, and the local community. Along with their personal trauma, Noor’s family must also deal with veiled threats, racist and Islamophobic slurs, and physical violence. The story centers on the hot-button issues of book banning and freedom of speech, while also exploring family dynamics, forging friendships, and a budding love triangle. Although the pacing is at times weighed down by the content, Ahmed inventively uses different formats—social media comments, news articles, transcripts of television broadcasts—to examine the racist ideologies and talking points behind censorship efforts.

A timely story about silence as complicity, defending freedom, and the courage to fight against hate. (author’s note, resources, bibliography) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780316547840

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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