Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim | SLJ Review

Gr 9 Up –The past year has brought its share of woes for Mariam Sharma and her best friends, Ghaz and Umar. The remedy? A summer road trip.

redstarKARIM, Sheba. Mariam Sharma Hits the Road. 320p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062445735. POP

Gr 9 Up –The past year has brought its share of woes for Mariam Sharma and her best friends, Ghaz and Umar. The remedy? A summer road trip. After their freshman year of college, Mariam, reeling from a recent breakup and in search of answers about her absent father, and Ghaz, who leaves behind a family apoplectic about her foray into modeling, join recent high school grad Umar on his cross-country trip to New Orleans for the Islamic Association of North America convention. High jinks involving pot brownies, mechanical bulls, and karaoke ensue. Ghaz and Umar ooze drama, keeping up witheringly sarcastic, at times raunchy commentary, while introspective Mariam takes it all in. However, like its characters, this breezy, irreverent romp has a deeply thoughtful side. Though devoted to his religion, Umar contends with the knowledge that there are Muslims who see him as a sinner because he is gay, while Ghaz expresses frustration with Islam and anger at her repressive family. Karim offers a nuanced perspective on the road trip novel, centering the experiences of three South Asian American teens who also encounter racism and Islamophobia on their journey of self-discovery. VERDICT This joyously exuberant tale will speak to readers who enjoy a blend of barbed humor and poignant reflection. An excellent choice for all YA shelves.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2018 issue.

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