cover image Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year

Nina Hamza. Quill Tree, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-302489-2

Moving away from everything you’ve ever known is difficult for anyone, but 12-year-old Ahmed Aziz, who is Indian American and Muslim, has an especially difficult time as he and his family relocate from Hawaii to his father’s hometown of Farthing, Minn. While the move allows Ahmed’s father, who has cirrhosis, to receive experimental treatment, Ahmed is less than enthused that his parents selected Minnesota over the other two locations offering the treatment—California and Japan. Immersed in a mostly white environment and forced to deal with bullies for the first time in his life, Ahmed copes by doing something he rarely does: reading. As Ahmed and his classmates dissect Louis Sachar’s Holes and other children’s novels in their accelerated language arts class, Ahmed slowly begins to develop a love for reading, with his deepening understanding of the characters and analyses helping him to navigate interpersonal issues and change in his own life. Hamza writes with verve and a palpable fondness for her nuanced characters in this quietly absorbing debut middle grade novel, which offers discerning lessons on reading, love, and adaptation. Ages 8–12. Agent: Alyssa Henkin, Trident Media Group. (June)