An Emotion of Great Delight

HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2021. 256p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062972415. POP.
Gr 9 Up–Shadi is struggling to finish high school without losing her focus. It’s a few years after 9/11 and the United States has recently declared war on Iraq. As an Iranian American Muslim teenager, Shadi, who wears a hijab, is judged harshly by teachers, students, and others in her community. What no one can see, though, is that most of her stress doesn’t stem from anything related to religion or politics. Her brother was recently killed in an accident, her father is in the hospital after a severe heart attack, and her mother’s mental health is in decline. As if that’s not enough, her best friend, Zahra, who is also Iranian, has dropped her, leaving her with questions. When Zahra’s brother, Ali, offers to console Shadi, the two admit to something that has been growing for years between them. Shadi must decide how important it is to follow her heart, even when she knows it may lead her into risky territory. Mafi’s prose is compelling and unsentimental, giving voice to the universal angst common among teenagers. She handles the timely issues of race and discrimination with skill, highlighting the inaccuracies so often ascribed to individuals of the Muslim faith. Her well-developed characters jump off the page, especially during romantic moments.
VERDICT An emotional, important look at an American Muslim teen’s experience. Recommended for all high school libraries.

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