Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Thanks to @kidlitexchange and @sabina_writer for sharing the ARC of this book with me. It’s out TODAY from @scholasticinc!

Zara was born in Pakistan and moved to Texas with her parents when she was three. Now she’s seventeen, with college on the horizon. But she has to make it through her senior year first, and it seems like one classmate, in particular, has it out for her. Tyler keeps leaving racist notes and saying racist remarks when she walks by. When he graffitis Zara’s house, her dad stands up for his family. Things get twisted around and her dad ends up hurt and charged with a crime, leaving Zara’s family’s green card in the balance.

This is an interesting book based on the subject matter alone, and I especially love that it goes into detail about how the family has been waiting for their green cards for years, even though Zara’s father’s employer sponsored them. I didn’t know a lot of the ins and outs of the process, so it was very eye-opening. I think it’s easy for teens to empathize with Zara because she’s on the cusp of being “free” for college, but this stands in her way to completely throw her life off track. I especially like how it’s framed as being the only country Zara has really known, while her mother is missing her own home country, so there’s this complex pull for both of them.

This might be nit-picky, but I think the LGBTQIA aspect of the book was a little over the top. It’s fine that Zara is bi, and I know some of the focus was that her parents were more accepting of it than other parents, but all of the scenes with her girlfriend seemed rushed. I don’t think the relationship was as well-developed as it could have been. I would either prefer the relationship to step up and balance the story more, or be taken out and those words used more for the injustice behind green cards, racism, etc.

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