My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really liked this book. I found that Zara’s story was compelling as it was told in first person (without any competing voices) and it flowed through to its conclusion in a present tense, chronological order. I think it would be a great book for teaching with students in grades 7 through 12, and would be especially appealing for groups who want to open the discussion about what it’s like for children whose parents are first-generation immigrants, or for children who are first-generation immigrants themselves. The push/pull nature of tradition and fitting in must have a real toll on families and I think Zara does a great job of expressing this.
Sabina Khan‘s craft is shown best in the moments in Zara’s teen utopia of first love, and frozen yogurt that are blasted apart by racism and violence. I wish there had been more finesse in the imagery she creates of Zara’s experience, but the direct approach does make it more easily readable. I wish there had been less energy spent on Zara’s indecision and worry, and more on the development of the secondary characters and the plot twists in the last third of the book. The American setting (for this Canadian teacher) isn’t a turn off at all, because Canada is a tertiary feature of promise. I would recommend this book find its way into any school library or classroom and I hope you pick it up.
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