The Lines We Cross

"An Afghani-Australian teen named Mina earns a scholarship to a prestigious private school and meets Michael, whose family opposes allowing Muslim refugees and immigrants into the country. Dual points of view are presented in this moving and intelligent contemporary novel set in Australia. Eleventh-grader Mina is smart and self-possessed—her mother and stepfather (her biological father was murdered in Afghanistan) have moved their business and home across Sydney in order for her to attend Victoria College. She’s determined to excel there, even though being surrounded by such privilege is a culture shock for her. When she meets white Michael, the two are drawn to each other even though his close-knit, activist family espouses a political viewpoint that, though they insist it is merely pragmatic, is unquestionably Islamophobic. Tackling hard topics head-on, Abdel-Fattah explores them fully and with nuance. True-to-life dialogue and realistic teen social dynamics both deepen the tension and provide levity. While Mina and Michael’s attraction seems at first unlikely, the pair’s warmth wins out, and readers will be swept up in their love story and will come away with a clearer understanding of how bias permeates the lives of those targeted by it."-Kirkus Review

Ayesha Dean - The Istanbul Intrigue

"Ayesha and her friends Sara and Jess jump at the chance of accompanying Ayesha's uncle on a trip from Australia to Istanbul. But when Ayesha discovers a mysterious note as a result of visiting an old bookshop, their relaxing holiday starts to get a whole lot more complicated! Ayesha finds herself trying to uncover a hundred-year-old Ibn Arabi mystery, while trying to avoid creepy villains, and still making sure that she gets to eat the best doner kebab Istanbul has to offer. It's all in a day's sleuthing when you're Ayesha Dean. Lucky she can count on her best friends to always have her back!" -Goodreads

The Librarian of Basra

"Alia Muhammad Baker was the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq, a meeting place for many and quite near one of Basra’s best restaurants. When war comes to Basra, Alia saves the books in the only way she can see: She takes thousands of them to her own home, to the homes of friends, and to the restaurant next door. Alia saved 70 percent of her collection before the library was firebombed and destroyed. Winter tells this story in simple, clear declarative sentences. Her beautiful acrylic-and-pen illustrations are filled with the rose and violet, blue and gold, russet and orange colors of the desert, and she uses pattern to great effect in the shelves and piles of books, in the dark array of planes and bombs over the city, and in the parti-colored headscarves and clothing of the people of Basra. Created with strength and courage, like Alia’s devotion to the books in her charge." -Kirkus Review

Meet Yasmin

"Watch a fun, curious, and creative Pakistani-American girl solve problems and have adventures.

Four separate sections give Yasmin lots of opportunities. “Yasmin the Explorer” makes a map of her neighborhood and uses it when she goes to the farmers market with her mother. “Yasmin the Painter” doesn’t know what to create for the art contest at school, but when she tinkers with a paint set gifted to her by her baba, she gets an idea that proves successful. “Yasmin the Builder” is once again stumped over a class project, but after a few false starts and moments of frustration, she comes up with a brilliant contribution. Finally, “Yasmin the Fashionista” is bored at home with her grandparents while her parents eat out together. She complains of having nothing to do, but when she stumbles into her mother’s closet, the hijabs and saris and a new kameez give her lots of ideas. Each episode spans two to three chapters. Each spread has full- or half-page art in attractive, bold colors. Readers will be charmed by this one-of-a-kind character and won’t tire of her small but significant dilemmas. Faruqi nails the child’s perspective, and illustrator Aly gives Yasmin life. Backmatter intended for child readers offers things to think and talk about from the stories, an index of Urdu words presented as a fun way to learn the language, facts about Pakistan, a recipe, and a craft." -Kirkus Review

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

"A sophisticated color-concept book featuring a contemporary family introduces Islam to young Muslims and children who don’t practice this faith. Here the basic colors, plus gold and silver, are used to explain aspects of Islamic life. A young girl with very large eyes narrates, using short, childlike and occasionally forced verses to match colors and objects. The glossary is excellent, explaining unfamiliar terms succinctly. The stylized illustrations, richly detailed, often play with the sizes of the objects in a surrealistic way. It is difficult to tell whether the family lives in the Middle East, Britain (home of the artist) or North America. The secular architecture looks Western, but the mosque looks very grand and Middle Eastern. The clothing styles are difficult to associate with a particular country. This both maximizes accessibility and deprives the tale of specificity—clearly a conscious trade-off. A vibrant exploratory presentation that should be supplemented with other books." - Kirkus Reviews

Under the Persimmon Tree

"Time: one month after September 11, 2001. Place: Northern Afghanistan. Enter 12-year-old Najmah, abandoned when her father and brother are taken away at gunpoint to fight for the Taliban and, soon after, her mother and baby brother die in an air attack. Then, enter Nusrat, a fair-haired New Yorker who has been living and teaching in Pakistan’s Peshawar since her husband Faiz decided to work for an Afghan clinic. Through shifting points of view in alternating sections, readers learn about young Najmah’s dangerous journey to a refugee camp, and of Nusrat’s nagging worry about her husband from whom she’s not heard in far too long. Najmah and Nusrat’s stories collide when Najmah makes her way to Peshawar in search of her family and is taken to Nusrat, the American who teaches refugees under a persimmon tree. Together, they yearn for lost loved ones, discuss the nature of the stars they both adore and follow their hearts the best they can. Staples brings beautiful, war-torn Afghanistan closer in this affecting, eye-opening novel." -Kirkus Review

A Thousand Splendid Suns

"Mariam is a bastard. Her mother was a housekeeper for a rich businessman in Herat, Afghanistan, until he impregnated and banished her. Mariam’s childhood ended abruptly when her mother hanged herself. Her father then married off the 15-year-old to Rasheed, a 40ish shoemaker in Kabul, hundreds of miles away. Rasheed is a deeply conventional man who insists that Mariam wear a burqa, though many women are going uncovered (it’s 1974). Mariam lives in fear of him, especially after numerous miscarriages. In 1987, the story switches to a neighbor, nine-year-old Laila, her playmate Tariq and her parents. It’s the eighth year of Soviet occupation—bad for the nation, but good for women, who are granted unprecedented freedoms. Kabul’s true suffering begins in 1992. The Soviets have gone, and rival warlords are tearing the city apart. Before he leaves for Pakistan, Tariq and Laila make love; soon after, her parents are killed by a rocket. The two storylines merge when Rasheed and Mariam shelter the solitary Laila. Rasheed has his own agenda; the 14-year-old will become his second wife, over Mariam’s objections, and give him an heir, but to his disgust Laila has a daughter, Aziza; in time, he’ll realize Tariq is the father. The heart of the novel is the gradual bonding between the girl-mother and the much older woman. Rasheed grows increasingly hostile, even frenzied, after an escape by the women is foiled. Relief comes when Laila gives birth to a boy, but it’s short-lived. The Taliban are in control; women must stay home; Rasheed loses his business; they have no food; Aziza is sent to an orphanage. The dramatic final section includes a murder and an execution. Despite all the pain and heartbreak, the novel is never depressing; Hosseini barrels through each grim development unflinchingly, seeking illumination." -Kirkus Review

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