Review of Unsettled

by Reem Faruqi
Middle School    Harper/HarperCollins    352 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-06-304470-8    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-304472-2    $8.99

Faruqi’s evocative immigrant story in verse follows a young girl from the “land of the pure” to the “land of the free.” Thirteen-year-old Nurah Haqq and her family move from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, seeking better opportunities. Nurah wrestles with her growing teenage insecurities, cultural and faith-based hurdles, and difficulty fitting in. As she observes the struggles and triumphs of her family, she begins to reshape her life. Each new section (e.g., “Uprooting,” “Replanting”), decorated in floral henna patterns, reflects her state of mind. Slowly, the familiarity of math, art, and swimming as well as a blossoming friendship help her shed her hesitancy and embrace change. Though a lapse into jealousy leads to a poor decision, she learns to stand up for herself and others. Faruqi’s expressive use of free verse folds many disparate ideas of friendship, sibling rivalry, bullying, and terrorism into an ultimately heartwarming story. While other Muslim stories in verse, such as Other Words for Home (rev. 7/19) by Jasmine Warga and The Red Pencil (rev. 11/14) by Andrea Davis Pinkney, deal with immigrant refugees, Faruqi focuses on privileged immigrants whose model minority status doesn’t insulate them from hate crime and Islamophobia. Nurah’s coming-of-age story will inspire readers to step into their own light.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Sadaf Siddique is co-author of Muslims in Story: Expanding Multicultural Understanding through Children’s and Young Adult Literature and co-founder of Kitaabworld. She writes about Muslim kid lit and South Asian kid lit at Lantern Reads.

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