Author: Allan Stratton
Publication Year: 2010
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Review copy from the publisher
From the cover:
The truth is closing in.
Life’s not easy for Sami Sabiri since his dad stuck him at a private school where he’s the only Muslim kid. But it’s about to get a lot worse.
When Sami catches his father in a lie, he gets suspicious. . . . He’s not the only one. In a whirlwind, the FBI descends on his home, and Sami’s family becomes the center of an international terrorist investigation. Now Sami must fight to keep his world from unraveling.
An explosive thriller ripped from today’s headlines, borderline is the story of a funny, gutsy Muslim-American teen determined to save his father, his family, and his life.
I originally wanted to read this book because it seemed to be one of the few YA novels that has a Muslim protagonist, and one of the even fewer YA novels that has a male Muslim protagonist. (I mean, I’m sure there are more, but this is one of the first that I’ve heard of.)
Then I started reading about how many awards this book has won over the past year. And you know what? They are entirely deserved.
First of all, the character of Sami is fantastic. He’s this precocious teenager who doesn’t really have a lot of friends, and who’s trying his best to “deal with” his seemingly uber-religious father. Who sent him away to an all-boys private school, by the way, because of some inappropriate behaviour with a girl. And who has a code phrase with his parents that means that it’s time to go inside for prayers, even though his friends really are aware of what’s going on anyways.
Anyways, Sami’s curiousity really comes to light when his father starts doing some really suspicious things. Their relationship wasn’t exactly close to begin with, but it just kind of goes over the top. And for the rest of the novel (about half, I think?), we end up following Sami’s journey to find out what the heck his father has been up to, and whether his suspicions – and those of the FBI – will be confirmed or not.
It’s a tale that really digs into family relationships and the strength of friendship bonds between boys, as well as into the intricacies of today’s media climate with regards to Islam, Muslims, and terrorism. Stratton really hits hard and pulls no punches, even in the end. There are lessons to be learned all around, let me tell you, and nobody turns out to be completely innocent in the end.
Definitely pick up Borderline if you haven’t read it already. You won’t regret it!
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.