Zara's Rules for Living Your Best Life

Zara's Rules for Living Your Best Life
Age Range
Release Date
March 21, 2023
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It’s spring break and Zara and Naomi have big plans…until Zara finds out that Naomi’s parents are sending her to camp and Zara and Zayd are going to spend the week with their grandparents. Zara’s pretty sure it’s a rule that spring break is supposed to be full of fun and adventure—not doing chores for Naano and watching Nana Abu doze on the couch! But ever since Nana Abu retired, it seems all he wants to do is eat and sleep, and Zara’s worried their grandfather has lost his mojo.

Meanwhile, Naomi’s having a blast at her day camp. Since Zara can’t join her, can Zara find a way to bring the fun of camp to her grandparents’ home? With a little help from Zayd, Zara concocts a plan that just might save her vacation—and help her grandfather start living his best life.

Editor review

1 review
Zara makes lemonade
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
Young readers will be able to identify with Zara’s disappointment. She has big plans to have fun with her neighborhood friends during Spring Break but being sent to her grandparents’ house ruins all of that. Then, her little brother Zayd adds to her frustrations by speaking those annoying words, “I’m bored”. Visiting grandparents can be very enjoyable but Zara’s patience is put to the test with the prospect of spending a week with them instead of her friends. Her irritation grows when her list of interesting activities isn’t readily embraced by her little brother and grandparents. Zara’s mission, and the main conflict of the plot, is to find her grandfather a new hobby that will motivate him and make him more active.
The author includes cultural details in the plot through Zara’s family and her best friend Naomi’s family. Naomi is Jewish and she’s spending the week at her synagogue’s camp in preparation for Passover. Zara’s family is Muslim with her parents’ families living in Pakistan. Her grandparents use Urdu and Punjabi words and phrases (I can’t tell them apart) but they mostly speak English. Readers can get the gist of any unfamiliar terms by using the context of the sentences. Naano, Zara’s grandmother, loves to cook ethnic foods so different Pakistani foods are included. Nana Abu loves her flaky bread called parathas, especially with a sweet paste called halwa spread on it. There’s also a scene with Zara and Naano praying at the mosque.
Zara epitomizes the old phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” She’s very bummed when she can’t play with her friends and her feelings only worsen after her first day at the grandparents’ house. However, instead of complaining and moping around, she focuses on others and strives to make their lives better. The kindness and love she exhibits toward her family make her a character young readers can emulate. Her positivity makes it easy to root her on as she searches for different ways to get her grandparents to try new things. One failed plan only means she’ll need to try something else. Zara’s main goal in life is to make people happy and that includes her little brother!
What didn’t work as well:
Readers looking for drama, conflict, and serious tension will be sadly unfulfilled. Zara encounters highs and lows as she tries to make the best of the Spring Break but she never considers the possibility her plans won’t succeed. She constantly spreads good feelings in everything she does.
The Final Verdict:
The book tells a feel-good story through Zara’s love for her grandparents. Zara is one of the most positive and kind characters you’ll meet and I recommend you give this book a shot.
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