It’s the end of high school, and Shabnam Qureshi has lost her best friend and has no summer job, but the summer quickly becomes unforgettable when she finds herself falling in love.
Pakistani-American Shabnam does many things wrong, including kissing an obnoxious white boy in a party game after he disses her best friend with a bigoted joke, being ashamed of her great-uncle for his religious/ethnic appearance, and lying about her great-uncle’s experience during Partition—a lie that, in a satisfying twist of poetic justice, haunts her. Still, by the time she falls head over heels for Jamie, a white college student in town for the summer, readers can’t help but feel protective of Shabnam. When she finds the guts to reconnect with her fascinating best friend, Farah, things really get interesting. In this relationship with another Pakistani-American girl, readers catch a glimpse of the diversity among Muslims. Shabnam is decidedly secular, at times sounding anti-religion, as when she tries to convince Farah not to wear the hijab. Farah, however, feels “too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims.” Even as Shabnam and Farah make this satisfying trek back to friendship, Shabnam learns to relate to her parents, exploring Urdu poetry and Sufism, two of her father’s interests, which are likely to interest readers as well.
Populated by complicated characters who are so well described readers will feel they might bump into them on the street, Karim’s second novel delivers on its title’s promise. (Fiction. 14-adult)