Uplifting, beautiful, brilliant, funny, tender and wonderful are but a few of the words other reviewers have used to describe this book.
We experience the story through the eyes of ten year old Jamie whose elder sister (one of two twin girls) was killed by a Muslim suicide bomber when he was very young. Her death made his father turn to drink, ruined his parents marriage and made his single-parent father despise all Muslims. Told in the first person, Jamie has a very strong voice and is surprisingly nonchalant about his sister’s death to begin with. The story moves with him as he joins a new school while longing to see his estranged mother and befriending a Muslim girl in his class. As you can imagine, trouble awaits when his father finds out about his new friendship.
It touches upon a very important political and social issue currently in terms of extremism leading to prejudice against all Muslims in the minds of some. The story exposes this thought process for what it is though Jamie’s friendship with a Muslim girl which is beautifully written.
While an important and wonderfully written book, I do wonder whether it’s adults enjoying the story more than actual children reading it. Though the protagonist is a boy, I can’t honestly see by two boys (9 and 11) ever reading this. A more thoughtful and emotionally engaged girl of 9-12 might like it but I suspect it’s girls of an older age, say 12-15 (more in the YA range) who might actually read and engage with it properly. My daughter was in that age range when she read and enjoyed it. It’s definitely an upper middle grade novel.
Rating out of 5: ♦♦♦♦
Suggested age: Girls 12+