Basketball and Racial Conflicts
Bijan Majidi does okay in high school-- he has a good friend, Sean, is on the basketball team, and while he might be a little clueless about girls, he hopes that things will improve. After doing well enough on the basketball court to be moved to the varsity team, he hopes that he will catch the attention of his crush, Elle. Instead, after his victory on the court and a stint helping Stephanie Bergner gather signatures for a petition to remove "Gunners" as the school mascot, he is the target of an awful e mail sent to all of the students in his private school, photoshopping his picture onto that of a "terrorist". Bijan's mother is of Persian descent and his late father grew up in Jordan, but Bijan doesn't really identify as anything but a US citizen. His mother, of course, is tremendously upset about the e mail, and goes to the school, but Bijan just doesn't want there to be a fuss and hopes everything will pass. Yes, there are some jerks on his team-- Drew is also on a scholarship and isn't pleased when Bijan intervenes during an issue with Drew's girlfriend Erin, and Will is just a general jerk-- but Bijan isn't entirely sure they are behind the photograph. He continues to work with Stephanie on the mascot change, which is not popular with all students, and does well on the basketball court, dealing with some additional unpleasantness in the locker room. That doesn't bother him that much, but when another photoshopped picture, this time of Stephanie and her girlfriend, is circulated, he is interested in finding the culprit and bringing that person to justice.
The budding romance with Elle is sweet, and the friendship with Stephanie even more interesting. I did like that he and Drew came to an understanding despite their differences.
There is a lot of underage drinking in this, although Bijan listens to his mother and does not drink, and there are a few other situations that, while fairly calm for Young Adult fiction, make this more suited to high school readers.
I was a little surprised that there would be students who would NOT want to change the mascot from the "Gunners", but this book would have been finished well before the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Graced with a fantastic cover, Here to Stay is a compelling read about basketball, unlikely friendships, and that current sociopolitical climate surrounding race relations in the US. How sad is it that we are still dealing with racial issues like this that were described in books like Cerra's Just a Drop of Water (2016), Budhos's Watched (2016), Walter's Bifocal (2007), and even Cooney's The Terrorist (1999).