Author: Marina Budhos
Reading Level: 5th and up
Publisher: Atheneum, Ginee Seo Books
Edition: Hardcover, 2006
The subject matter is definitely an important one (post-911 mistrust and political mistreatment of Muslim males and families) and there are many moments of heart-felt and hard hitting impacts. Not that I want the Hossain family to fail in their struggle, but the few plot twists that turn the event around seem a little too easy. I wonder if the success of their appeal almost undercuts the untold stories of those who were sent back to their countries and denied more chances in the States. True, the Uncle’s story is told on the side, which is a story of someone’s spirit being broken, but it was such a small aside compared to the main tale. Maybe the narrator (who uses present tense) sounds a bit more like the writer behind these words than the 14-year-old who does not quite excel in anything except for being patient and preceptive at moments of distress — some of the poetic descriptions seem a bit out of synch with the character.
That said, I will not hesitate giving this story to many young readers who will find both the topic and the perilous situations absorbing.