Genre: Young Adult – Diverse Contemporary
Target Audience: 13+
Rating: A+ (100%)
Goodreads Rating: 5/5
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
There’s a quote on the front of this book from Nicola Yoon and I’ve never agreed with another’s opinion more than I do right now.
“The very best books move you to reconsider the world around you, and this is one of those. I truly loved it.”– Nicola Yoon
I went into this novel knowing a little bit about it. Not a whole lot. I knew it was set back in 2002. I knew it’s a diverse read. I knew that it was loosely based on the author’s own difficulties growing up. What I didn’t know, was how much this book would shape me. How much it would leave me thinking about the repercussions of the hatred in the world.
I was bullied my entire life during school, but I was never bullied to the extent that Shirin was. The fact that people out there get attacked because of their religion, or their skin colour, or even their beliefs is absolutely ridiculous to me. This book will force you to open your eyes to reality. Make you witness the world through the prejudice of others.
This book is filled with culture and family and friendship. Love and care injected into 300 pages of complete necessity. I haven’t read a book like this one befreo but I know full well, that we need more of them around. More to help the world understand what it’s like to not be a privileged white kid. To help others understand what everyone around them might be going through.
Enough seriousness. Let’s talk about Ocean. He’s adorable and sweet and absolutely not what I was expecting. I love him to bits. I’m also obsessed with Navid and his friends. They’re pretty freaking stellar as well! I can honestly say that the characterisation. The plot. Everything seems so right.
Even the style and tone of this novel is different to what I’m used to. It’s a fresh look at a YA contemporary. It’s unique and absolutely what the Contemporary genre needs. I can’t really fault this book if I’m going to be honest. It’s rightfully earned a place on my favourites of this year.
The break down of my rating:
Style & Tone: 10/10
Enjoyment Factor: 10/10