Rebels by Accident
What worked: I'm a huge fan of books that have diversity in them and this one fits that bill. I have an Egyptian national brother-in-law, who dealt with many of the issues brought up in this novel-discrimination, fear, and hatred from others-for being a Muslim male. The hateful words flung Miriam's way sound so familiar like her uncle being Bin Laden. Those issues were very realistic and right on the mark.
Miriam only wants to fit in her school and not hear the many nasty comments that are attacks against her culture and religion. Dunn does a good job showing Miriam's struggles and inter conflict with her Egyptian heritage.
I liked how Miriam perceptions about Egypt and her grandmother are shattered once she gets there. I loved the relationship between these two as readers get a glimpse into the lives of Egyptians right before the revolution. I heard of them first hand from my brother-in-law who has extended family living outside of Cairo but I'm sure others might not have known some of the hardships that everyday Egyptians faced.
I also liked the spunk of her BFF Deanna, who had her own challenges with a facial deformity but her personality and upbeat behavior kind of balanced out Miriam's own.
What I had problems with had to be some of the dialogue that read like someone was reading from a textbook. More than a few times it felt stilted and not authentic. This is turn slowed the otherwise engaging story line down.
One big thing for me was the revolution scene. It was intriguing for Deanna to be a part of it but I wanted Miriam there. This very pivotal scene felt lightly brushed over with only a few mentions of the atrocities committed by that government. I'm not sure if that was the intent or not?
Also it was really hard to believe the Insta romances with the Egyptian boys that only reinforced a borderline cliche and aren't a true reflection of most Egyptian males. And the abrupt ending I felt could have been fleshed out more. As it was I felt the story rushed through some key moments that could have added more to this story. But that's just me.
A coming of age tale that gives readers a glimpse into the Egyptian revolution as seen through the eyes of a teen confronting her own inner battles and how she's able to make peace with not only that but embrace her culture.