Review of Rebel of Fire and Flight

Rebel of Fire and Flight Rebel of Fire and Flight
by Aneesa Marufu
Middle School, High School    Chicken House/Scholastic    384 pp.
1/23    9781338802313    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781338802337    $12.99

Khadija is a brown-skinned sixteen-year-old girl ­living in the (fictional) realm of Ghadaea. Although her Ghadaean identity grants her a position in society’s highest racial caste, her identity as a girl means she will never obtain the freedom she desires. When her father informs her that he has found a suitable husband for her, Khadija commandeers a hot-air balloon and floats away from her restrictive life. Her flight leads her to Jacob, a hāri, or white member of Ghadaea’s lowest social caste, who longs to escape his abusive glassmaking apprenticeship. Despite their gender, racial, and class differences, the two form an unlikely bond, as they both wish for freedom from oppression and have experienced the loss of family and friends. Khadija and Jacob’s friendship is tested, however, when they find themselves caught between two ­revolutionary groups: the Wāzeem, who believe that peaceful protest will result in equality for all; and the Hāreef, who want the hāri to rule at all costs. Told from ­Khadija’s and Jacob’s alternating points of view, Marufu’s novel uses South Asian–inspired fantasy ­elements to tackle discussions of racism, misogyny, classism, and ­activism. An exciting and action-packed adventure perfect for fans of Blackman’s Naughts and Crosses (rev. 7/05).

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

S. R. Toliver

S. R. Toliver is an assistant professor of literacy and secondary humanities at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her public and academic scholarship can be found on her website Follow her on Twitter @SR_Toliver.

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