Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
for a story of fighting abuse and inequality, for a story that will piss you right the fuck off and make you want to fight alongside them
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.
But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.
From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.
This is one of those books that I’ve really wanted to read for a while, but also knew that it would not be an easy read emotionally for me because of it’s topic. Zara and her family are getting harassed at school and in the town and as it gets worse, the family struggles with how to handle it. I would recommend this for classrooms, but only ones led by a teacher who can teach to the empathy required to have this story matter and make an impact.
Escalation in this happened extremely quickly, and went to a place I did not expect. I guess I should have. It reflects the painful reality of the world, though, and the insulation of “it’s just a story” wasn’t there as much as I had relied on. So yes, this was a difficult story to read. But it’s even more difficult to live, and people certainly are. The central conflict of this story is not what I thought it was in the way I thought it would be.
Turmoil brings out people’s true colors, and Zara and her family certainly have turmoil in their lives. Their true colors are all beautiful though, and it hurt my heart to watch them deal with so much fear and pain while I was helpless on the other side of the pages. Zara in particular is such a tenacious fighter, and she somehow holds on to optimism and strength when other people do their damnedest to beat her down.
The ending, oh, the ending. To keep it as vague as possible yet still express my opinion, it was not what I expected but it was good, and it made quite a strong statement about their situation.
7 thoughts on “Review: Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan”
This sounds like a good, but really hard, story. Thanks for the review!
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Yeah, I’ve got a lot of those lately it seems 😅