cover image Hollow Fires

Hollow Fires

Samira Ahmed. Little, Brown, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-3162-8264-2

When high school freshman Jawad Ali, the son of Iraqi refugees to the U.S., crafts a model jet pack for Halloween, he’s excited to showcase the approved makerspace project to his classmates and teachers. But the things go badly wrong with the costume: mistaken for wearing “something like a suicide bomber vest,” Jawad is marched out in handcuffs and suspended from school. Then, after receiving a series of threatening texts, he’s murdered. But Jawad’s ghost remains, communicating with 17-year-old Indian American Safiya Mirza, an aspiring journalist who grows to believe in their connection, and whom he leads to his body in a neglected area of Jackson Park. Spurred on by his spirit, Safiya works to solve the murder, a journey that forces her to face dark truths about their community, in which a festering hatred has led to threats against her mosque. Writing in dual perspectives that highlight Jawad’s innocence and Safiya’s determination amid personal themes of romance and friendship, Ahmed (Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know) weaves evocative prose with images, articles, and text messages to explore with skill and depth the twining of social media in an age of misinformation, alt-right political movements, and racism and Islamophobia. Ages 12–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary. (May)