blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan*

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.

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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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My thoughts:

This was really good, a powerful novel about our differences and our similarities, about race, religion and sexuality. A book about family in all its different guises and friendship.

The fun stuff; bits are really funny, like Zorro the dog and his pizza hedge or Zara’s dad getting carried away on the karaoke machine. There’s so much food I was practically drooling all the way through – South Asian food is delicious and I was extremely hungry (I made curry after I finished it, also you should definitely try bhel puri, it’s amazing). The romance between Zara and Chloe was sweet and tender.

The not so fun stuff; racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry. What happens to Zara’s dad is really awful, what she and her family endure from the small minority of idiots that think the colour of someone’s skin or the way they practice their faith is an acceptable thing to attack. It’s very sad and it made me very angry. Some of my best friends are Indian and Pakistani, some of them are Muslim too and I hate how they have to deal with ignorance and bigotry.

There is hope in the book, though, Zara has so much hope and that is so so important when dealing with things like this. She’s determined to stand up and fight back against the racists and the bigots. I stand with all the Zaras out there dealing with this nonsense (trying really hard not to swear) as an ally.

An important, timely book and one I hope lots of people choose to read.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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