FICTION

Watched

272p. ebook available. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553534184; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780553534191.
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RedReviewStarGr 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.

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