The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis

This memoir of modern domestic slavery ends with hope and determination, as young author Hall (born Shyima El-Sayed Hassan) is “one of the fortunate 2 percent” to be freed from servitude.

Shyima’s childhood in Egypt ends when her parents are blackmailed into turning over their 8-year-old daughter to a wealthy couple. Every day, Shyima cleans the five-story house and the 17-car garage, “standing on a stool doing the dishes” because she’s too tiny to reach the sink. When she’s 10, Shyima’s captors move to California, illegally trafficking her into the U.S. After two more years of hard labor and increasing ill health, a worried neighbor calls the police, and Shyima’s journey into freedom begins. A chain of Muslim and Christian foster parents (some protective, others exploitative) leads her to become an anti-slavery activist. Unsurprisingly, Hall’s representations of Arab and Muslim men are filtered through her appalling experiences. Though she acknowledges misogyny “is not what the Muslim faith is about,” readers should expect to find depictions that hew closely to negative stereotypes. Those readers prepared to brave a dense, adult tome could move from Hall’s memoir to John Bowe’s Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy (2007) for a deeper look.

The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis . (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8168-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013



Enlightening, inspiring, and moving.

Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community’s symbol of freedom.

June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York’s West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York’s Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn’t bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress.

Enlightening, inspiring, and moving. (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01679-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015


From the Through My Eyes series

Readers don’t always need another heroine—sometimes a young woman living an ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances...

Amina Khalid is a sweet, amiable teenager—and a solid counterexample to Islamophobia and negative notions about Somalis.

The 14-year-old Somali Muslim teenager lives in war-fractured Mogadishu. She shares her grenade-damaged home with pregnant Khadija, elderly Ayeeyo, her older brother, Roble, and her father, political artist Samatar Khalid. Unlike the stereotypes of Muslim men oppressing Muslim women and girls, Amina’s loving father and exasperated brother support the “itch in her fingertips” that “[drives] her to keep creating.” Like her dad, Amina creates renegade art—not paintings on canvas like Samatar, but multimedia street art using bombed-out buildings, hoarded charcoal, poetry, cloth strips, and other pieces of her beloved metropolis. Powers’ prose is honest, though descriptions of events such as giving birth as a circumcised woman, kidnappings by real-life Islamist group al-Shabab, and death are sometimes elliptically described. She leavens Amina’s difficult situation with school, crushes, unexpected friendships, faith, spoken-word face-offs, and real-life context as Amina and her fellow citizens reconfigure what “normal” means for their families, city, and, by extension, country. Taken as a whole, this entry in the Through My Eyes series is solid but not gripping—and that’s OK.

Readers don’t always need another heroine—sometimes a young woman living an ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances will wilt stereotypes better than heroics. (map, author’s note, timeline, glossary, further reading) (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-74331-249-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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