cover image The White Zone

The White Zone

Carolyn Marsden. Carolrhoda, $17.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7613-7383-4

A year in the life of a Shiite boy, Nouri, and his half-Sunni cousin, Talib, told from their alternating perspectives, provides a window into the terror-filled world of American-occupied Baghdad. Escalating financial, religious, and political tensions break apart families and destroy neighborhoods in Marsden’s (Take Me with You) commanding war story. Whether begging candy from American soldiers, doing homework while mortar shells burst outside, or driving by “a blackened car with a pair of legs poking out from underneath,” the boys go through their daily routines while the violence increasingly insinuates fear into their personal lives. Bereft at the loss of his uncle to a Sunni martyr attack, Nouri begins to distrust all Sunnis, while Talib, driven from school and home because of his religion, increasingly wants vengeance, as well. As the boys’ bitterness battles with their longstanding affection for each other, their passions drive them to actions ranging from cruel and cowardly to brave and generous. Author’s notes and a glossary expound on geographical places, historical events, and frequently used vocabulary. Haunting yet hopeful. Ages 9–14. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)