Pubblicato in: As Travars-Recensioni

Zara Hossain is here by Sabina Khan- Hear Our Voices Book Tours

Hello and welcome to my stop for Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan! A huge thanks to Hear Our Voices Book Tours and Scholastic Press for the chance to read and review this book!




Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Genre: YA Fiction

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Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.


Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.


But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.


From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

TW: racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, biphobia

Zara Hossain is the only Muslim student at her High school in Corpus Christi. She’s “used” to microaggession, while trying not to show her anger and true feelings, because she and her family are waiting for their green card and she’s afraid seeking justice would jeopardize that goal. But one day her tormentor, a star football player, Tyler Benson, takes things too far and get suspended. Tyler and his racist friends so decide to vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime and a consequences that could jeopardize their lives and Zara’s future.
Zara is forced to fight between staying in the place she considers her home, while her parents don’t feel safe anymore, or losing the life she knows coming back to Pakistan.

Zara Hossain is here is a heart-wrenching novel about what it means to be an immigrant in America, the struggles Zara and her family face, the Islamophobia, the racism, the feeling of don’t belong. It was so intense reading this book and it filled me with rage and sadness realizing how people can be so ignorant and hateful, how, sometimes, there’s no justice. The author talks about white privilege and the acute difference in the way the system (police, racial, social ones) treats and considers white people and people of color. Sabina Khan also addresses issues like homophobia and biphobia and how religions are often used as excuses to ignorant and hurtful behaviour.


I love the tight bond between Zara and her parents, who would do anything for her and her future and between Zara and her friends, Nick and Priya. Zara and her family are surrounded by a wonderful and tight community and it was so amazing to read, how supported and helped they were during these crazy times. Zara is a strong main character, stubborn, loving, ready to fight for the right thing. She’s smart and passionate and I really love her energy and her bonds with her family, biological and found.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s the kind of book that hurt my heart and made me think about how unfair are things in America, how spread are the double standards and the white privilege, how money can buy things and people. And also how important is to fight for the right thing, not to be silent and to seek justice and fairness.

One of the things I loved the most is how the author doesn’t sweeten the hard reality. Unfair things happened and are still happening, families are torn apart, people, who only tried to find a better place for themselves and their families, can find, and do find, racism and injustice. It’s not the kind of book with an happy ever after. Sabina Khan doesn’t lie and she shows how unfair, how injust the life can be. Zara Hossain is Here is a painful book to read, it’s about unjustices and racism, but also about family, endurance of hope, fighting for justice and against hate.

It’s heart-wrenching and hopeful at the same time and I loved Zara and her family.




Sabina Khan is the author of ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE (Scholastic/ April 6, 2021) and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic, 2019). She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.


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  1. Where did you get the inspiration for Zara Hossain Is Here?

I wrote Zara Hossain Is Here largely becasue of my own experience with the US immigration system. In the 90’s I lived there with my family and we were all awaiting our green cards. Unfortunately a clerical error by our lawyer derailed the entire process and we had no choice but to leave the country before our visas expired. It was a difficult time to move and start all over yet again. Luckily we were able to build a good life in Canada with our young children, but at the time the experience was quite traumatizing.

  1. Could you describe the book with one sentence?

A young Muslim immigrant fights back against Islamophobia, racism and the inequities of the US immigration system.

  1. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’ve discovered that my creative juices don’t start flowing unless I’m sitting in my favorite recliner with my puppy by my feet. And I need to have complete silence, as in even my husband’s breathing annoys me when I’m in the zone.

  1. Zara experiences Islamophobic harassments. What advice would you give to people in her same situation?

I think that every such situation is unique so it’s hard to give any general piece of advice. But I do think that it’s very important to consider all the variables such as safety, access to resources, a support network etc.

  1. Do you have future projects? Could you tell us something about them?

I do have a few things in the works. Right now all I can tell you is that my next book is another YA contemporary that plays with time and POV.

  1. What are five random things about you that you love?

This is a fun question! Let’s see:

I love that I don’t care where I am when there’s music playing and I can just start dancing.

I love that I finally found the courage to sing in front of people, because I love it so much!

I love that I sometimes laugh so loudly that I scare people, but I don’t care.

I love that I can make myself laugh, even when other people don’t think my jokes are funny.

I love that I still feel excited about what life will bring my way.

Thank you so much for these wonderful questions!

Pubblicato in: As Travars-Recensioni

THE SILENCE OF BONES by June Hur FFBC blog tour

The silence of bones by June Hur

336 pages

Published April 21st 2020 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical, Historical Fiction

WELCOME TO MY STOP FOR THE SILENCE OF BONES FFBC BLOG TOUR!

First of all I wanted to thank the publisher for sending me a copy and FFBC for the amazing chance to be part of this blog tour.

THE PLOT

Seol is sixteen years old, a police damo, indentured servant and she’s tasked with helping inspector Han, a young and respected man, in investigating the murder of a young noblewoman, Lady O. But while they investigate her past and connections, Seol starts to form a cautious friendship with inspector Han, relationship that will be turned upside down when he becomes a suspect. Her loyalty being tested, Seol decides to investigate and try to understand what really happened to the young noblewoman and who is the killer. At the same time, she’s bonded by the promise made to her older sister, to find what happened to their older brother, who, years ago, went to the capital and never wrote back to her. What happened to him? Is he really dead?

MY THOUGHTS

The silence of bones is June Hur’s debut, a brilliant and complex YA historical novel, set in Joseon, Korea, in 1800. Through her evocative and captivating writing style, the reader is able to see the city, to follow Seol in her investigation, to walk with her on the streets and crossing forests and mountains.

I was really involved in Seol’s inquiry, because the writing style is engaging and the characters are well rounded and written.
It was really interesting reading how the women where considered and treated in the old Korea, in a male dominated culture.
Seol, as the other female servants in the police, is used to arrest and touch female criminals and to examine female victims, because men couldn’t touch women that they weren’t related to. In a setting where honor was everything, considered vital to the nobles, people committed atrocious acts and women could be killed in order to defend the family honor.


In a world where silence and obedience are highly valued, where “among the seven sins a woman could commit, one was talking excessively” (quote taken from the arc), Seol is an “anomaly”, since she’s curious and inquisitive, eager to learn and investigate, strong and stubborn.

The mystery is very interesting and captivating and full of twists, confessions, tortures, clues and secrets. I found fascinating Seol’s determination, who doesn’t let her being a female damo and the limitations of being a woman in 1800 Korea, stopping her inquiry.

The relationship between her and inspector Han is peculiar and complex since the beginning, being the inspector in a position of power, but slowly Seol proves to him and to the reader her strength and abilities, her loyalty. At first, loyalty to the inspector, but after discovering the complexity and ambiguity of his character, to the truth and the murdered victims.

It was peculiar reading how many characters were troubled by their past and how they decided to act upon it. Seol, determined to discover the truth about her older brother and her own past, to be seen and considered by the police for her worth, the inspector Han, who wanted to escape the tragedies of his past and family, obsessed with his work and officer Shim, who was eager to be seen and recognized.

Interesting is the presence of Lady Kang, a Catholic noblewoman Seol meets in her investigation, a woman who teaches illiterate servants and maid how to read, a highly respected member of the Catholic community, a woman who really existed.

The silence of bones, through the murder mystery and Seol’s search for her brother, talks about the persecution of Catholics in the Korea of 1800 and it was fascinating reading the author’s note and discovering the story and the politics connected to people present in the book, like the priest Zhou Wenmo, Queen Jeongsun, the queen Regent and Lady Kang.


In 1800 Korea, divided in four factions, the Old doctrine dominated and supported the traditions, the structured system, the importance of honor and purity. Clashing against the Southerns, open to the Western’s influence and to the Catholicism. In this context, the queen Regent was bent on the destruction of the Southerns and the Catholics. In a world, that was male dominated, where women were told what they should and shouldn’t do, both the queen regent and lady Kang (even though in opposite factions) represented an anomality, like Lady Kang and Seol in the book.

CONCLUSION


I found absolutely interesting and fascinating how the author explores the relationships between characters, the way women were treated, the politics in 1800 Korea, mixing everything in a gripping historical mystery. Set in male dominated world and culture, Seol is an unforgettable main character, able to prove her worth and, through her curiousity and determination, to reach the truth.

Seol, against the traditions that wanted the women hidden and quiet, is determined not to be silenced.

I’ve rarely found historical books so captivating and interesting. The way the history is woven with the murder mystery and the main character’s own inquiry is skillful and brilliant. The characters, in their complexity and ambiguity, are absolutely relatable and alive. They rage, they are envious, curious, stubborn, angry, sad. This book is full of brilliantly written characters, a mystery able to capture the reader’s attention right away, inserting bit by bit until the whole picture is created, the investigation almost like a puzzle.

I recommend this book to everyone interested in a skillfully written police inquiry and unforgettable characters. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JUNE HUR (‘Hur’ as in ‘her’) was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto, and currently works for the public library. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.


Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020.
She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.

FAVOURITE QUOTES

I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak; ears, but I mustn’t hear; eyes, but I mustn’t see.

My fear had reached its climax and another sensation flooded in, a powerful longing that churned within me: the desire to matter.

With your determination, you can be anything you want.

Curiosity was the only thing I couldn’t resist.

Brother had once told me that when you long for something too badly, and for too long, it begins to feel like a faraway, unreachable dream.

Closing my eyes, I prayed to the heavens that in his next life, orabeoni would be surrounded by peole whose hearts brimmed with kindness. And I would brim with kindness to those around me, because my brother could be anywhere.

EXCERPT

Fate. A shackle as solid as truth— unchangeable, unmovable. On the day of my departure, my sister had told me how long I was bound by the government to serve in the police bureau, away from home, from family. For one generation, she’d whispered.

My entire life.

That is, I would be free by the age of forty-one, as old as death itself.

A thunder of fluttering wings filled the sky in all directions, the birds overhead taken to flight. A shriek in the distance pierced the air; a terrified horse. Officer Kyŏn charged ahead, while it took me a scrambling moment to realize what was happening. I jabbed my heels into Terror’s side and followed him through the thicket, over the protruding roots, branches hitting my face.

Then we reached a glade and my heart stopped. Across the stream stood Inspector Han, his sleeve blood-soaked, his hand inching toward the sword at his side. A matter of paces away prowled a tiger, a deep growl rumbling from its white- and- black- striped chest. Powerful paws with sharp claws. The beast looked as large as Inspector Han himself.

“Do not move,” the inspector said, though not to us. Past the thick cluster of leaves was a horse struggling on the ground, shaking its head as blood continued to ooze from its wounded side. And hunkered down behind the creature was Maid Soyi.

Unable to look away from the scene, I hissed to Kyŏn, “Shoot it!”

A muscle worked in Officer Kyŏn’s jaw. Clearly he was incensed at an order from a girl, but he drew out an arrow and nocked it to his bow. As he aimed, the iron point trembled. What resolve he had, I watched falter and crumble.

“I’ll do it.” I snatched the weapon from him and rode out into the glade for a better aim. My motion caught the tiger’s attention. Good. My fear had reached its climax, and another sensation flooded in, a powerful longing that churned within me: the desire to matter.

LINKS