Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan – REVIEW

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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Scholastic and Pride Book Tours.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“I’ve never needed a knight. I can wield my own damn sword when I need to.”

The book revolves around seventeen-year-old Zara, a bisexual Muslim who emigrated from Pakistan to Texas with her parents when she was three years old. After a long wait, their green cards are finally nearing approval when a racist attack threatens everything. 

“I’m exhausted from the burden of representing almost two billion people.”

Zara was an engaging main character and I loved her developing relationship with Chloe, a lesbian from a strict Christian family struggling to accept her sexuality. The friendship between Zara, Nick and Priya was another fantastic addition and I’m so glad the author avoided any type of love triangle. 

The abysmal state of the US immigration system is presented in stark terms and the unfairness and overlong waiting times are emphasised through the tribulations of the Hossain family. The escalating racial violence also demonstrates the differing justice experienced by white people versus ethnic minorities. 

“How do I deal with someone who’s convinced that his right to exist in this world trumps mine?”

The author explores themes of immigration, belonging, identity, race and faith in a nuanced and engaging style that encourages the reader to question the status quo and fight for a better future. This is one of those books that needs to be in every school library to help educate and I’d highly recommend reading a copy if at all possible.

(Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Bookshop.org)

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