HarperCollins. May 2021. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063044708. POP.
Gr 4-6–At home in Karachi, Pakistan, Nurah Haqq enjoys a life surrounded by family, friends, and visits to the ocean. A perfect day at the beach becomes the worst day when Nurah’s father announces that he has accepted a job offer in America. Her immediate family—father, mother, and older brother Owais—will soon relocate to the United States. Uprooted, the family settles in Peachtree City, GA, where Nurah discovers a nation of unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, and strange pronunciations. The challenges they face in America, including Nurah’s complicity in an attack on her brother, will force the girl—whose name means “light”—to face her own weaknesses, reconnect with the light within, and blossom into someone she is proud of. Told in verse in short chapters and divided into nine sections which are illustrated with floral mehndi patterns, this is an insightful and moving narrative that tackles a wide range of salient topics, including ableism, bullying, assimilation, colorism, racial profiling, friendship, miscarriage, and domestic abuse. The brevity of some verses allows the engrossing narrative to move quickly, but also leaves some topics feeling underexamined. Farqui beautifully weaves Urdu and Arabic terms, and Islamic concepts throughout the text, crafting an unapologetic and authentic look at what it means to grow up Pakistani and Muslim in America. Back matter, which includes a glossary of Arabic and Urdu terms, author’s note, and recipe for aloo kabab, offers additional context and opportunities for understanding and engagement.
VERDICT A thought-provoking and engaging coming-of-age story recommended for libraries of all types; will particularly appeal to fans of Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home, Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, and Hena Khan’s Amina’s Voice.

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