Arab-American Heritage Month

For this month’s column highlighting titles by Arab-American authors, I leaped at the chance to open a book from my to-read list: Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram. When Darius’ grandfather is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, his parents take Darius and his little sister on their first trip to Iran. Even the pronunciation of Darius’ name is different in Iran, but the change frees him to try new experiences, discovering a talent for soccer and making new friends. The book addresses a range of issues in Darius’ life: the medication he takes to treat his depression, his relationship with his father, and the difference in social cues between Iranian and American cultures. I particularly appreciated learning about cultural heritage landmarks that Darius visits in Iran, including a Tower of Silence, the ruins of Persepolis, and the Yazd Atash Behram (a Zoroastrian Fire Temple.) I loved following Darius’ exploration of his identity and what it means to be a “fractional Persian.”

Further reading for Arab-American Heritage Month:
A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tahereh Mafi
Grades 9 and up
Libby: eBook
Hoopla: audiobook
“After attending three different high schools, Shirin's used to finding her way in new places…But two things make this new school different: break-dancing and Ocean, the white lab partner who seems to see beyond Iranian-American Shirin's hijab.”—Kirkus Reviews

Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi
Grades 8 and up
Libby: eBook
“While his parents travel to Iran to visit his ailing grandfather, 16-year-old Scott Ferdowsi quits his boring summer lab internship in Philadelphia and secretly travels to D.C., seeking answers about his (in)ability to succeed.”—Kirkus Reviews

The Secret Sky, by Atia Abawi
Grades 9 and up
Libby: eBook
“Fatima and Samiullah have known each other their whole lives, growing up together in a rural village in Afghanistan. She is a Hazara girl, he is a Pashtun boy; they should not be considered equal, but their village is relatively open-minded…This is an important story; it gives sensitive insight to a culture that many Americans do not understand beyond what they read in headlines.” —School Library Journal

A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena
Grades 8 and up
Libby: eBook
“Set in Saudi Arabia, Zarin is non-Muslim, from India, and living with her aunt and uncle, her guardians after she was orphaned as a young girl. Zarin, a bright student, rebels against the expectations of her guardians and the societal expectations of the culture, so she earns a reputation as a bad girl…By using narrators who are both from the culture and outside of it, the story provides nuanced insight into expectations and norms, particularly regarding double standards of gender roles.”—VOYA Reviews

 

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Teens, Library News, and Teens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.