cover image Watched


Marina Budhos. Random/Lamb, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-553-53418-4

A Muslim teen adrift in his post-9/11 Queens neighborhood makes a dangerous bargain in a stirring novel about coming of age amid intensive police surveillance and racial profiling. After 11-year-old Naeem travels from Bangladesh to Jackson Heights to live with his father, stepmother, and half-brother, he begins a slow slide from treasured firstborn to charming but failing slacker. By senior year, Naeem mostly spends time cruising around with his older friend, Ibrahim, who is the reason Naeem gets caught with stolen merchandise after a mall trip. Two NYPD detectives offer Naeem a deal: he can become everything his community fears—a watcher, a rat—or his shoplifting will become more than a stupid mistake. Naeem immerses himself in the Muslim community, feeding what seems like innocuous information to the police, unsure whether he’s the hero or villain in his own story. Through Naeem’s perceptive, conflicted narration, Budhos (Tell Us We’re Home) captures the tug of youthful innocence leeching away as hard, unjust realities set in with a mix of apprehension and genuine emotion. Ages 12–up. Agency: Brandt & Hochman. (Sept.)