The Next New Syrian Girl

Little, Brown. Mar. 2023. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316432634.
Gr 9 Up–Between boxing and dreams of travel, Khadija has never been the “perfect Syrian daughter” her mother wants. On the outside, Leene seems to be like any other Syrian refugee adjusting to a new country, however, demons of her past haunt her constantly. When Leene and her mom are invited into Khadija’s home, the teens become a collision of misconceptions and suspicion. But as Khadija uncovers Leene’s painful past, the girls begin a journey that may show they have more in common than they realized. With a 2018 backdrop, Shukairy delivers a story of the ongoing conflict in Syria that is honest and complex, authentically not shying away from the reality of war. Told in the alternating viewpoints of Khadija and Leene, the novel explores what a country can symbolize for its people as the two teens beautifully show pride in their identity and love for their country. As an unforgettable connection grows between Khadija and Leene, a friendship blooms through challenges, loss, and hope. Khadija’s halal romance is icing on the cake. A trigger warning may be needed for a suicide attempt.
VERDICT A must-read story of two strong, young Muslim women, and a definite purchase for library shelves.

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