A white Catholic teen from Ohio spends her months in Cairo getting to know her gorgeous Egyptian driver while learning about social justice and international fellowship.
When her mother gets the chance of a lifetime to open up a Doctors Without Borders–style eye clinic in Egypt, Caroline’s both nervous and excited. She ignores dire warnings from her beloved-but-“racist” grandmother, who’s convinced terrorists lurk around every corner. Cairo gains appeal when Caroline meets her driver, Adam, an aspiring chef who shows her a Cairo beyond stereotypes: not just pyramids, but churches, jerk chicken, and Egyptian reggae. At every opportunity Caroline muses on how Egypt resembles home: the call to prayer like church bells, Islam’s attitude about dating resembling her grandmother’s, the unmet promises of the Arab Spring compared to Ferguson. Adam and Caroline have much in common (they’ve both been sorted into Hufflepuff, for instance), but religion, class, and culture demand they stay apart. Caroline’s awareness of the imperialist undertones of her relationship with Adam doesn’t make her stop loving him, and they both struggle to do what’s right. There’s a place for unsubtle messaging about white Americans learning to see humanity in the Muslim world, and Caroline—with her likable tattooed father and her mouthwatering descriptions of food—is a pleasant vehicle for the lesson.
Pair with Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars (2013) for an insider point of view of Islam. (Fiction. 12-16)