cover image The Partition Project

The Partition Project

Saadia Faruqi. Quill Tree, $19.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-0631-1581-1

Only the facts matter to 12-year-old aspiring journalist Mahnoor Raheem, so when she partners on a study project for English class with best friend Kim Hoang, Maha finds herself largely uninterested in the fiction books Kim suggests they read. Maha instead focuses on her media studies assignment for which she must create a short documentary with a storytelling hook. Her unlikely subject is Dadi, her gruff Pakistani grandmother, who lives with Maha and her parents following a permanent move to Sugar Land, Tex. Initially resentful of Dadi’s sudden arrival, Maha is soon drawn to her grandmother’s childhood stories, especially as Maha’s busy parents have imparted little of their Pakistani heritage. Through Dadi, Maha learns of the Partition, the violent severing of British India into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India, as well as the horrors her grandmother witnessed as a young refugee. Meanwhile, Kim views Maha’s preoccupation with Dadi’s stories as interfering with their English project, and their friendship fractures. In this vivid rendering of how growing cultural awareness and identity exploration can shape one’s adolescence, Faruqi (Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero) presents an empowering story of family that will bolster tweens negotiating blended identities. Supporting characters are racially diverse. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kari Sutherland, KT Literary. (Feb.)