Thank you to Trident Media for the free finished copy for review. All opinions are my own.
Rez is a young teenager who has it all. He was born in America to Iranian immigrants but has identified with the American culture from the very beginning. He attends a prep school in Laguna Beach and enjoys surfing with his friends. After a surfing trip to Mexico doesn’t end so well, Rez finds himself ostracized from his regular group of friends, but he eventually finds solace with other Muslims students. As terrorist attacks occur throughout American (post-9/11), Rez and his Muslim friends find themselves increasingly discriminated against and targeted. What unravels throughout the novel is Rez’s slow radicalization from a normal, American teenager into a soldier for an extremist terror network in Syria.
Assuming that this is a realistic interpretation of how these terrorist networks recruit new people, this book gives the reader information that is timely, informative, and scary. While the author’s writing style took a little while to get used to, once the rhythm is found it becomes very descriptive, lyrical, and at times, poetic. I came to really enjoy Khadivi’s writing style (I just wish her dialogue was written in a more traditional way so it would be easier to follow).
My biggest dislike of the book is the way it wrapped up. The epilogue jumps the timespan forward by five years and the reader never really knows what happens to one of the characters. By this point, I was very much invested in the story and its characters so to be left hanging at the end left me incredibly frustrated.
Overall, I liked this book a lot. It was published in May, but I never really saw much about it. Sadly, I think this one flew under the radar and deserves more attention than it has gotten. The topic furthers many of the conversations happening throughout the world right now, and I believe it to be an informative account for many Muslim Americans.