Zayneb is an 18-year-old hijabi from Indiana—and she was just suspended for standing up to her Islamophobic teacher.
Now she’s on her way to Doha to spend two weeks with her cool aunt Nandy and forget about her troubles at school. On the flight, Zayneb meets Adam, who converted to Islam at age 11 after his mom—Auntie Nandy’s best friend—died from multiple sclerosis. Enamored with each other, Adam and Zayneb begin to share their life stories: Adam is keeping a huge secret from his father and sister, Zayneb hasn’t shared with her aunt why she’s been suspended, and both are mourning loved ones. Slowly, they fall in love, but their different experiences of dealing with racism and pain threaten to drive them apart. The novel’s dual narrative structure uses raw, earnest journal entries to guide readers through the painful realities of the Islamophobia and racism that permeate all levels of society. Zayneb’s story shows how the smallest incidents have trickle-down effects that dehumanize Muslims and devalue Muslim lives in some people’s eyes. This is a refreshing depiction of religiosity and spirituality coexisting with so-called “normal” young adult relationships and experiences: What makes Zayneb and Adam different is not their faith but their ability to learn from and love one another in a world hurling obstacles their way. Zayneb is half Pakistani and half West Indian; Adam is Canadian of Chinese and Finnish descent.
Heartfelt and powerful. (Fiction. 13-18)