A culturally textured look at a community that is rarely heard from.


From the Striker series

A coming-of-age story of identity, culture clashes, prejudice, and loss.

Fourteen-year-old Karen lives in mostly white Boarhead West, and her classmate, Shamshad, in predominantly South Asian immigrant Boarhead East. Despite having a Pakistani father, Karen runs with a gang of xenophobic teens until the leader, Donna, targets her, drawing a cross on her forehead; this prompts Karen to explore her Muslim roots and reclaim her given name, Kiran. Shamshad hates Karen—whom she refuses to call Kiran—for being "half-caste" Pakistani and white, her complicity with the racism of her gang, and not being a proper Muslim. Shamshad torments Karen to the point of physical violence, escalating when Kiran starts wearing hijab and makes the faux pas of pairing it with a miniskirt. Violence increases when Shamshad’s friend Laila disagrees with Shamshad’s behavior and starts teaching Kiran about being Muslim and when Kiran sees Shamshad sans-hijab with Jake, a white boy from her gang. Apart from their own grudge, both Kiran’s religiously lax family and Shamshad’s stringent one appear to hate each other for a secret, off-limits reason, but their ongoing conflict will bring the truth to light. Pakistani British author Mehmood (Courageous Ali and the Heartless King, 2013, etc.) tackles intense issues, including religion and socio-economic differences, and his complex characters, who could have been better fleshed out, illustrate that no one is really “proper.”

A culturally textured look at a community that is rarely heard from. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-908446-68-8

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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