I thought for sure this was going to be a book I enjoyed but, surprisingly, I didn’t really like it.
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
I think the biggest downfall of this book for me was the audiobook format. I was so bored listening to it! Adam’s narrator sounded way too old to be a teenager and I dreaded each chapter with him as narrator. Even Zayneb’s narrator didn’t sound right to me.
Still, even with different narrators or if I had read it, I think the writing style wouldn’t have worked for me. It felt like aside from creating some situations around important topics to discuss, nothing really happened in the book. And yet it somehow managed to be really long. Yeah, I don’t get it.
That being said, the topics brought up throughout the book are definitely important ones. The #ownvoices author brings up grief, loss, islamophobia, illness, war, the importance of family, and religion in very manageable ways. It doesn’t necessarily come across as preachy, but there’s definitely a lot to learn from what the author was saying.
I definitely appreciate the importance of the topics in this book and understand that a lot of people were able to relate to this book, but the narration and writing style weren’t for me in the end.