About This Book:
Furia meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter about the unlikely friendship between two very different Syrian girls, the pressures and expectations of the perfect Syrian daughter, and the repercussions of the Syrian Revolution both at home and abroad.
Khadija Shami is a Syrian American high school senior raised on boxing and football. Saddled with a monstrous ego and a fierce mother to test it, she dreams of escaping her sheltered life to travel the world with her best friend.
Leene Tahir is a Syrian refugee, doing her best to adjust to the wildly unfamiliar society of a suburban Detroit high school while battling panic attacks and family pressures.
When their worlds collide the result is catastrophic. To Khadija, Leene embodies the tame, dutiful Syrian ideal she’s long rebelled against. And to Leene, Khadija is the strong-willed, closed-off American who makes her doubt her place in the world.
But as Khadija digs up Leene’s past, a startling and life-changing discovery forces the two of them closer together. As the girls secretly race to unravel the truth, a friendship slowly and hesitantly begins blooming. Doubts are cast aside as they realize they have more in common than they each expected. What they find takes them on a journey all the way to Jordan, challenging what each knows about the other and herself.
Fans of Samira Ahmed’s Love, Hate, and Other Filters and Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse Of Sea will love Khadija and Leene’s sharp-witted voices in this dual POV narrative. The Next New Syrian Girl is a poignant and timely blend of guilt, nostalgia, devotion, and bad-ass hijabees.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THE NEXT NEW SYRIAN GIRL is a heartbreaking and emotional YA contemporary about grief/loss, survival, and family. Khadija is a Syrian American who loves boxing and has a crush on one of her fellow boxers. She struggles with her hobby as it is a constant source of friction with her mother, who would prefer a daughter like the new refugee who is staying with them while she and her mother get on their feet in the US.
Leene is a survivor who seen so many terrible things on her path to keep her and her family safe. She is struggling to adjust to the life they have been able to get in the US, and she wants to keep her head down and find work so that she and her mother can get their own apartment. At an intense party, the water and a photo on a cell phone bring back some terrible memories – and reveal a new secret that she is carrying. As Leene shares with Khadija, they form a new plan together that could mean everything.
What I loved: This was such a heart-wrenching and emotional read that absolutely consumed me. The story is told from both Leene and Khadija’s perspectives. While they are both Syrian, they have come to the US at different stages in their lives with different baggage. Both are dealing with familial relationships and the challenges of these, but at different levels and situations. The story really brings to life the reality of refugees and the terrible things they face in trying to get to safety, as well as prejudices and obstacles.
Themes around family, friendship, culture/heritage, being a refugee, survival, and grief/loss make this a really powerful book. This would be a great pick to process in a book club/discussion or classroom, to bring these realities to YA readers with characters that are easy to relate to and empathize with. While readers will likely not be facing the same problems, there are common teenage struggles that also appear in the story around parental approval/disappointment and expectations, gaining independence, and complicated relationships, including friendships and crushes.
Without spoilers, it is difficult to explain how intense and heartbreaking but beautiful this story is, but I highly recommend picking it up. I cried a few times (have tissues handy), and it absolutely moved me.
Final verdict: A powerful and heart-wrenching story, THE NEXT NEW SYRIAN GIRL is a consuming YA contemporary that I would highly recommend for people who enjoyed AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW and/or ALL MY RAGE.
*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*