Stella Walker’s brother, Rob, is home from Afghanistan.
But Rob, a U.S. Marine, has changed—he’s moody, angry, and anything can set him off. His parents are worried and focus all their attention on him. Stella isn’t talking to anyone about what’s going on at home—not even her best friend, Farida. Their local mayor is running for governor of Virginia, blaming immigrants and refugees for the state’s economic problems. Some of Stella’s classmates agree with the mayor—and when his son, Chris, decides to run for class president, Farida encourages Stella to run too. Although Farida, a Muslim Iraqi-American, wanted to run herself, her parents worried about her safety in the current political climate. When Rob becomes angry and assaults a boy who is bullying a Sikh teen, not only does he face charges, but the Walker family is targeted by hateful elements in the community who believe they support “terrorists.” Farida and her family are also drawn into the controversy. Which “truth” will the community believe? Littman (Fairest of Them All, 2017, etc.) skillfully reveals Rob’s thoughts and feelings as a veteran desperately waiting for help from the VA, while also intertwining Stella’s perspective as a white girl who is growing in her understanding of her own identity.
With well-developed characters, Littman explores growth and personal relationships alongside pain, mental illness, and social issues—showing how people can come together to heal. (Fiction. 12-18)