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Author: Budhos, Marina Tamar
Far from the "model teen," Naeem moves fast to outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents, their gossipy neighbors, and the other forms of surveillance in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens, but when his mistakes catch up with him and the police offer a dark deal, will Naeem be a hero or a traitor?
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 184418
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 69456
Kirkus Reviews (06/15/16)
School Library Journal (+) (06/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (07/16)
The Hornbook (00/11/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2016 Gr 7 Up—Naeem Rahman is a Bangladeshi immigrant and high school senior who lives in a Muslim neighborhood in Queens, where everyone is under surveillance because of fear of terrorist activity. His parents are struggling to make a living from their corner store, and they hope Naeem will be more successful than they are. However, he is more interested in street life and taking chances with the law than he is in studying. When his friend Ibrahim entices him into shoplifting and then abandons him to the cops, the protagonist is offered a deal: he can become an informant and spy on his Muslim neighbors, or he can face charges and most likely go to prison. He chooses the former. At first, this doesn't seem too bad. Naeem is making money, and he rationalizes that this is a way to do something good. He starts attending mosque and participating in a Muslim teen volunteer group, but when he doesn't find anything particularly alarming to report, the cops begin pressuring him to come up with better leads. Eventually, Naeem becomes involved in a scheme to entrap Ibrahim into incriminating activity, and he has to make some hard moral choices. This is a fast-moving, gripping tale that conveys Naeem's restlessness and the sense of paranoia that comes from being watched constantly. Budhos perfectly captures the gritty details of daily life in a Queens neighborhood, as well as the nuances of different immigrant groups. VERDICT Highly recommended because of its very timely subject matter; this would be a great choice for a book club or classroom discussion.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2016 Naeem’s not really a bad kid, just a garden variety screw-up who’s watching his grades slip during senior year, who would rather roam the streets than help out in his father’s shop, and who isn’t too sharp when it comes to judging his friends. An American-born teen of similar mindset could stay under the radar, but a Bangladeshi immigrant like Naeem is likelier to attract official attention, as he discovers when his buddy Ibrahim leaves him literally holding the bag with shoplifted shirts. The police make him an offer: spy on his Muslim peers, or land in a juvenile facility while his father’s green card gets revoked. Certainly the coercive element of the deal is repulsive, but Naeem initially revels in the drama of his new mission, going so far as to convince himself that he’s helping protect his family and neighbors. He even benefits from the discipline and from the near-paternal interest he receives from one of his police contacts. As he’s drawn into more complex assignments, though, he begins to realize how pernicious profiling can be and how little agency he has over sorting potentially dangerous suspects from quirky lost souls and outliers. There’s plenty of timely matter here to ponder or discuss, making this a strong recommendation for class reading and book clubs. It’s also a compelling coming-of-age story, and even readers who choose to downplay the current events threads will find Naeem’s strange path to reconnection with his family rewarding. EB - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 09/01/2016 Naeem Rahman can’t stop moving. After emigrating from Bangladesh to New York at age 11, he, as a high-school senior, spends his days cutting class and moving through the streets of Queens, hoping to avoid the watchful eyes of his father, stepmother, and half brother; his hordes of nosy neighbors; and especially the police and cameras that cover his Muslim neighborhood. When his friend Ibrahim tricks him into shoplifting, two NYPD officers leave Naeem with a choice. Either go to jail or become exactly what he has always hated—a spy, an informant, a watcher—thereby betraying his family, friends, and community. Budhos, author of two other novels that focus on immigrant teens (Ask Me No Questions, 2006, and Tell Us We’re Home, 2010), presents another effective coming-of-age novel, one that not only confronts without reservation the notion of Islamaphobia and issues of teenage identity but also tackles the grittier aspects of life in this post-9/11 era. What does it mean to belong to a family? a community? a country? - Copyright 2016 Booklist.