Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

Published by HarperCollins

Amazon.com: Unsettled (9780063044708): Faruqi, Reem: Books

Summary:  When Nurah’s father announces he has taken a new job and is moving the family from Karachi, Pakistan to Peachtree City, Georgia, Nurah is heartbroken to leave her best friend and her grandparents.  At her new school in Georgia, all she wants to do is blend in, but eating lunch by herself under a stairwell is lonely.  Joining the swim team leads to a new friendship that changes Nurah’s feelings about school, and she’s motivated to work hard to become a champion swimmer like her older brother, Owais.  When Owais is the target of a bullying incident at the pool that turns violent, and her father is questioned by the FBI following a terrorist incident, Nurah learns some difficult truths about being Muslim in America.  But she also learns to help her brother overcome his trauma to get back in the pool and to be true to herself and her heritage. Includes an author’s note tying her personal experiences to the story; a glossary, and a recipe for aloo kabab. 352 pages grades 3-7.

Pros:  A beautiful novel in verse that delves into many different issues, not only with Nurah and her family, but with her new friend Stahr, who has an abusive father.  While not every reader has had Nurah’s experience of moving to an unfamiliar new country, many will relate to her wish to blend in while at the same time learning to appreciate her unique qualities.

Cons:  I appreciate the brevity and economy of words of a novel in verse, but it’s also a format that makes it difficult to explore in depth the many topics (immigration, bullying, racial profiling, miscarriage, domestic abuse, etc.) that were included in this story.

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