WOW Recommends: Unsettled

Cover of Unsettled depicting a young girl in a light blue hijab walking towards the left on a yellow background, her hijab spilling out behind her to hold aspects of Pakastani culture suck as food, flowers, and street cars.
In Unsettled by Reem Faruqi, readers meet Nurah, who loves her life in Karachi, Pakistan. She loves her extended family, the sounds and tastes of home, and the local pool, where she and her brother Owais feel like they belong. So when her family moves to Peachtree City, Georgia in 2001 for a more stable job for her father, Nurah is not especially happy about it. She and her brother Owais, however, discover the community pool, and life in Georgia begins to show promise. They both make the swim team and work hard not only to excel in the pool, but to blend in to the local culture. But Nurah’s bright clothes, strong accent, and shy ways prove to be a hindrance to that blending in—as does September 11th and a horrific incident at the pool involving her brother. Nurah finally recognizes that she has stood on the sidelines of her own life and her family’s cultural heritage and well-being for too long. She must decide if she wants to fit in or stand out, knowing that her decision will make a difference in not only her happiness, but her sense of self.

Unsettled, a middle grades book written in verse, is the journey of a young girl who must rediscover who she is and who she wants to be as the turmoil of 2001 swirls around her. Negotiating between what was, what is, and what can be, Nurah’s story reflects not only an immigrant story of geographical and cultural shifts, but the changes many young people face as they come to understand the value of family, heritage, and home. This is a wonderful read that addresses the awkwardness that comes with transitioning into an unfamiliar place as well as the continuum and nuances of reception and acceptance upon arrival. Both joyful and heartbreaking, this novel will give readers a lot to discover and discuss in respect to their own situations and actions when challenged by the new and unfamiliar. –Recommended by Holly Johnson, Cincinnati, Ohio

Title: Unsettled
Author: Reem Faruqi
ISBN: 978-0-06-304470-8
Publisher: HarperCollins
PubDate: May 11, 2021

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