Samira Ahmed is an author who knows how to rip at your heart strings. So far, I have read two of her young adult fiction titles and they have decimated me, but in a way that had me thinking about the state of the world. Three years ago, I read Internment and had such a devastating book hangover after I finished that I knew I needed to read whatever she published next (Internment is set in a futuristic United States when Muslim-Americans are forced into internment camps. It tells the story of Layla Amin, a seventeen-year-old who leads a revolution against those complicit in silence). Samira’s latest soul-wrenching title is Hollow Fires. I’m still reeling from this book, yet I believe it’s a necessary read especially in today’s climate.
Hollow Fires is a powerful novel that tells the story of the evil that lives around us every day and how alternative facts created by the privileged bend the truth of a narrative to their will and desire. It’s a story of silent complicity, as well as outright and hidden racism. It’s about the will of a young journalist desperate to uncover the truth of what actually happened to a missing boy. If you enjoyed Sadie by Courtney Summers or Dear Martin by Nic Stone, I highly recommend you read this book.
Safiya Mirza wants to become a journalist. She is currently the editor of her private school’s newspaper, reporting on the facts of what is happening at her school, despite the administration wishing to push their own biases onto the paper. Safiya is a scholarship student, growing up in vastly different ways compared to her privileged classmates. Her desire to report only the facts and leave out any personal feelings changes the moment she finds the body of a murdered boy.
Jawad Ali was only fourteen years old. His public school had a makerspace where he was allowed to take recycled materials and repurpose them for whatever he wanted. Having had his current project approved by his teacher, Jawad built a cosplay jetpack to add to his Halloween costume. He brought the finished project to school to show his teacher and friends. One of his teachers mistook his jetpack for a bomb and alerted the police, which led to Jawad being arrested, labeled a terrorist, and eventually kidnapped and murdered. After his arrest, Jawad was cleared by the police, but his school still suspended him. His peers labeled him ‘Bomb Boy’ and his life as he knew it was changed forever.
Safiya is devastated after discovering Jawad’s body. His presence, voice, and smell are haunting her throughout the investigation, leading her to seek out the entire truth about Jawad’s murder and those who killed him because of their hate-fueled beliefs. Jawad was a person whose life was worth remembering exactly how he lived it and not how the media have spun it. Racist acts have been sprouting up all over Safiya’s school, as well as at her mosque and her parents’ store. Concerned they could be related to Jawad’s disappearance and with a lack of confidence in the local police department, Safiya begins an investigation of her own with the help of her friends and Jawad’s voice in her ear.
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Not every book has a happy ending: A Burning by Megha Majumdar is one of those books. Going into Majumdar’s debut with your eyes wide open will allow you to fully appreciate the beautiful story she has weaved. A Burning is the story of three people who desperately want more: power, opportunity, class, love. It’s a novel of fate, the juxtaposition of betrayal and love, of innocence and guilt, and how the truth may be twisted by the media into a falsehood that others believe to be true.
Terrorists have attacked Jivan’s hometown. This attack on a train has left 104 people dead and the nation is clamoring for someone to be held responsible. Jivan is a bright young woman, trying to get out of poverty and the slums. After making a careless comment on Facebook, Jivan is wrongly accused of planning the attack and is hauled into the police station.
PT Sir is a gym teacher from Jivan’s former school. He used to care highly for Jivan until she disappeared from school one day and never came back. He can’t understand why she could be so ungrateful and why she never thanked him for all he did for her. One day, PT Sir discovers a rally in a field for the right-wing political party. He becomes enraptured with what they have to say. He decides that the only way to improve his circumstances is to become a part of that party’s power. PT Sir soon finds that the price of his ascent is Jivan taking the fall.
Lovely is an outcast. She has dealt with hatred and disgust from the public her entire life, but that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming big. She wants fame, she wants glory, but most of all she wants to be the leading lady in a movie. Society isn’t quite so sure that she is what they want. Lovely also holds Jivan’s alibi and freedom in her hands. By speaking up and setting Jivan free, Lovely will have to say goodbye to everything that she desires and holds close.
The fates of these three people are so closely woven together that their slightest action ripples consequences to the others. It’s a short read, but its shortness packs a lot of complexness.
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It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!
The November meeting will not take place on November 11 as the library is closed on that day in observance of Veterans Day. The November program will meet instead on November 18.
On Wednesday, November 18th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. Information about how to join is below.
Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.
Curious what A Very Large Expanse of Sea is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:
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.
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Book Club @ Night
Wed, Nov 18, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (408) 650-3123
Access Code: 188-604-317
New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem is a perfect light and get-your-mind-distracted read to help you get ready for summer and for wedding season(or to just take a break from life). Even though summer is over, I still found this book to be a delightfully fresh debut from a new author.
The Marriage Clock is Raheem’s discussion of traditional vs. modern marriage customs in Indian families told as one woman’s struggle to keep everyone in her life happy. 26-year-old Leila Abid has always imagined getting married. Her parents want her to get married too and the fact that Leila isn’t married yet is something that they find very concerning. You see, as an East Indian/East Euro-Asian woman, Leila’s parents believe that marriage is half of their religious duty. Arranged marriages happen all the time, but growing up in America, Leila has slightly more give in terms of how early she was married.
At her 26th birthday party, Leila’s parents sit her down and tell her that she has three months to find a husband before they will arrange a marriage for her. Shocked and not happy with this news, Leila agrees as long as her mother backs off from the set-ups. Leila goes on blind dates, online dates, speed dates, ambush dates, and other dates in those three months, but sadly no great love comes to sweep her off her feet.
Leila has great expectations for love. She has always imagined a Bollywood romance with seven pages of what she’s expecting from her future husband. One of her biggest requests: she wants real love before she’s married. This deviates from the norm as with most traditional Indian arranged marriages, love does not happen until after marriage. Leila knows she doesn’t want that.
As her three month deadline looms closer, Leila finds herself wondering what her parents have in store for her. The longer she searches for a husband, the more Leila realizes that an arranged marriage is not for her. But if she doesn’t go through with one, how will her parents ever forgive her? Leila must find a solution that will keep her parents happy and will let her find a man to fall in love with.