Sunday, October 23, 2022

Golden Girl, by Reem Faruqi

Aafiyah enjoys a pretty good life. She's pretty, close with her next door neighbor Zaina, plays excellent tennis, and is bright and inquisitive.  Her favorite hobby is studying weird and obscure facts.  But she's about to suffer a string of setbacks, beginning when her father is detained by the Pakistani authorities during a family visit to relatives there.

Her father has been accused of stealing from his company, an accusation that hits particularly close to home for Aafiyah, because she has come to recognize that she has a problem with "borrowing" things from her peers.  They are always little things (lipstick, a pencil sharpener, etc.) and most of the time she returns the item in a few days.  But sometimes she keeps them.  Aafiyah knows that it is wrong to take things that don't belong to you, but she can't figure out a way to resist the impulses and so ironically she continues to do so while wishing for her unjustly accused father to be vindicated.  Predictably, Aafiyah eventually gets caught.

Told in verse, this swiftly-moving and engaging story roars through a wide variety of topic, including not just Aafiyah's kleptomania, but also issues of class and racial discrimination, gender relations, self-image, friendship, and family loyalty.  The writing style does not lend itself to much character depth, but the topics raised are important, and the story is beautifully organized.  There would certainly be plenty of material for a book discussion!

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