(ARC) ebook, 304 pages.
Read from January 20 to 29, 2014.
Thank you Netgalley for inviting me to read this novel, as I may not have come across it otherwise. This book is a gem in the YA genre and one that every young person living in this post 9/11 world needs to read. With all the hype that has come with America’s war on terror it’s easy to forget that there are two-sides to every story and while this novel is fiction it depicts the emotional side of the other story.
Laila is a teenage girl who was living like royalty in a middle-eastern country run by her father, that is, until he is assassinated. Overnight Laila becomes a nobody and she is moved with her family to the USA which, is a world and a lifestyle none of them are familiar with. Laila has more worries and concerns than most US teenage girls do and while she does her best to fit in, her past has left her with unanswered questions. Her mother is up to something, scheming with people that they would not normally associate with and Laila wants answers. She is afraid of the truth but she has to know if the way her family is being portrayed in the American media is true and if she knows her family as well as she thought she did.
This book is riveting and, on an emotional level, so realistically depicted. It makes you take a look at the war that is being waged and the consequences it has for the people who are suffering through the ordeal first hand. It makes you wonder if we are really ever able to grasp what living in a world like the middle-east would be like? We are so unbelievably safe here and have practically all of our basic needs met. How could any of us possibly understand the culture and times of countries that have none of these things? Laila offers us an inside to this world and her struggles in coming to terms with who she is and where she is.
I think the only compliant I have with this book is that I highly doubt that the American teenagers depicted in this book would be as kind as they are described to Lalia, knowing her origin. I think in the real world, if these kids knew who she was and where she came from they would be unrelentingly cruel to her. I would suspect violence from teenagers and potentially other adults. Despite this potential falsity, the emotions felt and portrayed by Lalia in the book make up for this fact. Her inner turmoil and bravery are truly what make this book great.
A highly recommended read for any North American.