Ask Me No Questions

978-1-93543-072-8. 49.95.
The Hossain family, immigrants from Bangladesh, have been living in New York illegally for many years after their tourist visas expired. Nadira, a shy 14-year-old, has always been jealous of her overachieving older sister, Aisha. But her self-absorbed feelings seem inconsequential after the girls’ father, Abba, is arrested at the U.S.–Canadian border shortly after 9/11 for having an expired visa. While their mother remains in a Canadian homeless shelter, the girls return to Queens to stay with relatives and await Abba’s fate. The threat of deportation always looms. Certain that she can convince the government that their father’s arrest was a mistake, Aisha begins a letter-writing campaign. But when it becomes clear that these efforts are in vain, Aisha’s confidence crumbles and she gives up—on everything. It’s up to Nadira to be the glue that holds her family together. When Abba’s trial begins, Nadira calls upon an inner strength she didn’t realize she possessed. Marina Budhos’s novel (Atheneum, 2006) paints a compelling portrait of what it was like to be a Muslim teen living in the United States following 9/11. The characters are believable and well-rounded, especially Nadira, who grows from a naive and whiny teenager into a mature, level-headed young woman. Abby Craden’s softly accented voice brings to life the emotional turmoil felt by the sisters, and she portrays male and female characters equally well. An excellent listen and an important addition to the study of the immigrant experience.–Alissa Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI

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