Golden Girl

Reem Faruqi. HarperCollins, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-304475-3

A teen of Pakistani descent faces her penchant for “borrowing” things and navigates puberty-related changes in Faruqi’s (Amira’s Picture Day) novel in verse. When 13-year-old Aafiyah Qamar’s Abba is arrested in Dubai for a theft that he didn’t commit, Aafiyah is determined to help the family—not least because she feels guilt about enjoying “the feeling/ of something new in my hands/ that’s not mine.” The incident occurs as the Muslim family—Aafiyah, her parents, and younger brother Ibrahim—are returning home to Atlanta from Karachi, accompanying Aafiyah’s Dada Abu, who seeks cancer treatment in the U.S. Unable to offer any help, her grandmother stays behind, while in America, her mother goes through their savings to hire lawyers for Aafiyah’s father. When Aafiyah, whose family has always been “well off,” sets out to help pay for her father’s expensive lawyer, she gets caught, and consequences follow. Aafiyah, who has mild hearing loss in one ear, enjoys facts, tennis, and photography, and is deeply aware of her best friend’s physical changes—and her own lack of them— in this story with a well-characterized, flawed heroine and a lot of heart. An author’s note discusses the real-life seeds of this story. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (Feb.)
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