Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero
To be honest, I hadn’t really discussed 9/11 with my 10 year old before this year. It is a painful event to discuss, esp since its perpetrators claimed to be Muslim. This book was useful in helping explain what happened to my son, how 9/11 affected the world, and also how Islamaphobia affects Muslims to this day.
Genre: Upper MG
Screening- sneaking out on Halloween dressed in Santa costumes (this rebellion was stated as gratifying for the kids). Thanksgiving/birthday. There is bullying and physical abuse, mentions of his uncle having a girlfriend, his dad singing christmas carols, music, and the murder of a cat.
Yusuf Azeem is in middle school, and super excited about this years Texas Robotics Competition. When the 20th anniversary of 9/11 happens, emotions are heightened and a new group in town start spreading hate about Muslims. Add to it a bully at school, and threatening notes in his locker, Yusuf just can’t catch a break. Tensions rise as the anniversary of Sept 11 approaches in town. When he brings a robotic cat to school and is arrested, Yusuf is upset. Can he find love among all that hate?
The book is unique and the topic important. 9/11 is described and the reader can see why it was such a terrifying event, and its affects such as Islamaphobia, the patriot act, the war in Afghanistan, and harm of innocent Muslims. The true story of Ahmed Mohamed and how he was arrested in 2015 inspired the part where Yusuf is arrested and was also very heart wrenching to read. I felt very emotional and it was well written!
I did feel like the book had some aspects that felt not developed enough. The Uncle’s journal, the tensions between Sameena Aunty and Ammi, the mom and dad’s relationship and the way they are with their kids. I wondered why the “hijabi” aunty was the mean one, something my son also vocalized to me.
I loved that Islam is mentioned a ton and practiced! Jummah prayer, and other prayers, prophet Musa and Ibrahim (as), hijab, quran, hadith, migrations-hijrah, and Prophet Muhammad and how he was treated in Makkah. So much more!
A def engaging read and one thought-provoking and educational, and me and my son enjoyed it!
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