Review of Hollow Fires

Hollow Fires Hollow Fires
by Samira Ahmed
High School    Little, Brown    400 pp.   g
5/22    978-0-316-28264-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-28284-0    $9.99

In a fast-paced thriller with elements of the supernatural, Ahmed (Internment, rev. 3/19) continues to explore issues of racism and Islamophobia. Chicago high-school senior and budding journalist Safiya Mirza attends exclusive DuSable Prep. When escalating white supremacist attacks at school and in her Muslim community get an indifferent response from law enforcement, a determined Safiya launches her own investigation—and then a ­Muslim student, Jawad Ali, is found murdered. Jawad had already received attention from the media, becoming a scapegoat for right-wing conspiracy theorists, labeled a terrorist, and called “bomb boy” after a teacher mistook his cosplay jetpack for a weapon. Now, seeking closure, Jawad’s ghost haunts Safiya as she pieces together the events of his violent death, determined to seek justice for him and to challenge systemic racism. In a novel that cleverly uses time jumps; alternates narration (between Safiya and ghost Jawad); and occasionally incorporates text messages, newspaper articles, and the like, Ahmed positions her story in the larger context of a racially divided world.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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