Monday, July 16, 2007

In the Name of God, by Paula Jolin

In contemporary Syria, Nadia seems like the perfect daughter -- kind and generous to beggars, pious and respectful of her elders, but very very angry. Her anger is directed towards the way that the US treats Muslims, the way the leaders of her country treat the common people, and about the way her cousin Fowzi has been arrested. And one day when she is angry enough, she encounters a persuasive young man named Walid who gives her the opportunity to make a real difference in the world -- as a suicide bomber.

The extremely unusual YA story explores a part of the world that is certainly on people's minds but is largely misunderstood. I'm sure that purists could find flaws with it, but the descriptions of Arab culture ring true. So, as a glimpse of an alien world, the book is groundbreaking. As a novel, it is a bit thin at points, but the ending is immensely satisfying and dramatically gripping. A fine example of the potential of YA literature to transcend both the inane and the politically correct. Stunning!

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