YA Review: An Impossible Thing To Say (Arya Shahi)

About This Book:

Omid needs the right words to connect with his newly met grandfather and distant Iranian heritage, words to tell a special girl what she means to him and to show everyone that he truly belongs in Tucson, Arizona, the only home he’s ever known. Neither the school play’s Shakespearean English nor his parents’ Farsi seems up to the task, and it’s only when Omid delves into the rhymes and rhythms of rap music that he starts to find his voice. But even as he does so, an act of terrorism transforms familiar accents into new threats.Then a family member disappears, and it seems everyone but Omid knows why. When words fail altogether and violence takes their place, what will Omid do next?


*Review Contributed by Kim Baccellia, Staff Reviewer*

It’s 2001 and Omid tries to make sense of his recently arrived Iranian grandparents. He starts high school and has a crush on Emily a girl who introduces him to theater and Shakespeare. Omid’s parents are from Iran and expect the best from him. Then 9/11 happens and he witnesses hateful comments from those in his town. His mother has a hateful encounter at the shopping market; his father’s rug business is vandalized; and Omid feels at a loss for the right words to say. Then his best friend Sammy introduces him to rap music and Omid connects. The words and rhymn give a voice to what he feels when all all fails him.

What worked: Heartfelt coming-of-age story where a Persian American teen fails to find the words to express what he feels during a difficult time in his life and in US history. Omid is the teen who is smart, and funny and doesn’t feel he fits in with the ‘cool’ kids at his private school. Emily is the cute new girl he’s attracted to and when there’s an opening in the high school play, he auditions thinking they’ll be together. Only they aren’t cast together. Omid still tries with her but at a party, he walks in on her with another cast member. Omid is at a loss. It doesn’t help that things at home aren’t much better. And when 9/11 occurs? Omid witnesses firsthand the hatred some have against those they feel attacked NYC.

Told in verse format this novel carries readers along with Omid’s struggles to fit in; conflicts with others at his school; and his desire to find a way to express himself and what he feels deep within. He also wants to learn more about his parent’s Iranian past and his heritage.

When Sammy burns a CD with rap music, Omid relates to the music and finally finds a way to express himself. Sammy is that friend who has your back even in tough situations.

Tender, funny at times, and unforgettable this story is sure to resonate with those who try to find their own path.

Good Points
1. Heartfelt coming-of-age story
2. Persian teen navigating his life in Tucson right when 9/11 happens
3. Finding his voice through rap music and Shakespeare

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