Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero
At a time when we are all asking questions about identity, grief, and how to stand up for what is right, this book by the author of A Thousand Questions will hit home with young readers who love Hena Khan and Varian Johnson—or anyone struggling to understand recent U.S. history and how it still affects us today.
Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win.
Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.
With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She is the author, with Laura Shovan, of A Place at the Table, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Her book Meet Yasmin!, the first book in an early reader series about a Pakistani-American girl, received starred reviews, and she is also author of the adult fiction book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. She lives with her husband and children in Houston, Texas, where she is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry, and prose.
"Gripping, well-paced, and poignant, this is an essential purchase for all libraries and a must-read book of our times that raises important questions about who controls historical narratives, what it means to stand up for justice, and the legacy of an event that cannot be forgotten." - School Library Journal (starred review)
"A timely, emotional story full of hope and love even in the face of discrimination and prejudice." - Kirkus Reviews
"Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero will surely help spark many conversations about Islamophobia and xenophobia, as well as how much things have changed in the past 20 years. Faruqi's emotional story will resonate with older readers who lived through the events many years ago, and younger readers will gain insight on the lasting effects that the 9/11 attacks had on Americans and why they are an important part of history." - Booklist
"Faruqi effectively probes complexities of radical activism vs. peaceful accommodation as Muslim response to prejudice, as well as the non-Muslim community’s deep discomfort in stepping beyond a bystander role in defense of their neighbors." - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
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