We humans are social creatures, highly gregarious and communicative. We are wired to be open to the world, so I am always shocked when I encounter intolerance, blatant displays of ignorance, or various other forms of hate. Life just seems too complicated as it is to add to the challenges with human pettiness. This is the frustration in which seventeen-year-old Shadi Nasreen navigates two years after the 9/11 attacks.  She is a Persian girl who detests the posturing of people trying to prove piety in the face of persecution and despises the bullying she must endure because she wears the face of the enemy. InRead More →

Where the Rhythm Takes You is Sarah Dass’ debut novel, and it joins the ranks of romance novels while being set in Tobago with scenes at Pigeon Point—the stuff postcards and dreams are made of. Through her protagonist Reyna, Dass shares her knowledge of Caribbean culture, cuisine, geography, and music as she explores the loss of a parent and the fear of following one’s dreams. A gifted painter, Reyna has grown up surrounded by nature’s constant growing, dying, and changing while immersed in the family business of owning and operating a seaside resort hotel, the Plumeria.  Her mummy is a perfectionist and a taskmaster, butRead More →

Since I had recently watched an episode of Dr. Phil in which an individual was being treated for the condition which forms the underlying conflict in Remedy by Eireann Corrigan, I guessed the mysterious illness early on. Because Corrigan’s protagonist, Cara Jean Wakely couldn’t exactly articulate her current ailment and stated that she and her mother Shaylene moved around a lot, those details tipped me off. However, the reader doesn’t learn the secret until much later when Cara’s friend Xavier Barnes (aka Science Kid) plants the idea in her brain. Xavier, who lectures and sometimes drones and laughs at his own jokes, loves gathering dataRead More →

Too overcome by grief to write or even to think about college, Noreen Mirza runs. Running helps her forget since any memory of her Aunt Sonia—who adored Islamic art and architecture—is replaced by the demand for breathing. Running takes her out of her head and provides a respite from the grief. So, when her mother gets offered an assignment in Delhi, India, the two Mirza girls pack up and escape. Noreen justifies this gap year as a tribute to her beloved Sonia Khala who never got to make the trip she always talked about and who would be excited if she knew where Noreen wasRead More →

Readers of Zara Hossain Is Here accompany driven, intelligent, community-minded social justice advocate, Zara Hossain on her mission to bring awareness to the sacrifices and struggles that immigrants face in the United States. In response, I vacillated between tears, anger at the injustice that brown, non-gender conforming individuals endure, and the occasional sense that some generalizing was taking place under the influence of Sabina Khan’s pen. Without wanting to minimize the challenges faced on a daily basis by someone who experiences otherness, I—a white, heterosexual, cisgender female—couldn’t help but say, “I don’t belong to that hate group, and I am always appalled that people’s coreRead More →

When “quiet, nerdy Ada Bloom finally has a verifiable love interest” (2), several people are surprised—including Ada. After five months, dating affable, athletic Leo Robinson, who is captain of the swim team, the two teens decide their relationship has reached the threshold of “the next step.” After Leo pops the question, Ada realizes she is not ready, and her relationship unravels from there. Cynthia Hand spends the rest of her novel With You All the Way exploring what makes someone believe he or she is ready for sex. She also addresses various motivations for the sexual act: curiosity, revenge, being sixteen, doing something risky andRead More →

The plot of Pamela N. Harris’s debut novel When You Look Like Us revolves around the life of sixteen-year-old Jay Murphy, his sister Nicole (Nic), and his grandmother Marie Murphy (MiMi). MiMi’s hands are “badges of honor, proof of hard work” (56), and Jay looks forward to the day when she can rest them. He vows that “MiMi is going to retire in Florida, or wherever else she wants to” (17) once he builds her nest egg as repayment for her sacrifices. The family lives in Newport News, Virginia, in a housing project called the Ducts. Despite what other people might think, Jay is livingRead More →

Fifteen Reasons to Love the Novel, Love in English It’s dedicated to “everyone who has ever strained to find the [right] words” to accurately express their thoughts and feelings. Maria E. Andreu writes with authenticity from the immigrant experience and perspective, but she also writes to those of us who feel “foreign” or who sense a feeling of other—“some nameless thing [we] can feel but not fix” (13). Many of the chapters close with idiomatically clever poems as the protagonist, Ana, plays with language. These not only capture her confusion but convey her learning. The novel is peppered with Spanish, as well as hashtags (####)Read More →

Angie Thomas’ prequel to The Hate U Give is a good read.  Concrete Rose, which tells the story of Maverick Carter, is no fairy tale. However, it is deeply moving.  It reveals a young man who is full of potential despite the harsh world around him. Even though Garden Heights, the neighborhood in which Maverick grows up, is inundated by gangs, drugs, violence, and poverty—his mother, Faye, does her best to give her son a positive upbringing. Still, he confronts death, the challenges of teenage parenting, and multiple temptations head on. Thomas doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties that Maverick faces, and the reader gets to experienceRead More →