Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan
Published by Scholastic Press on April 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Young Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (252 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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.
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains racism, assault, bullying, and a shooting.
Zara Hossain Is Here is narrated by seventeen-year-old Zara Hossain (duh) whose family immigrated from Pakistan to the US fourteen years ago. They’re still waiting on their green cards to be approved, but it should be happening soon. At least until a racist classmate goes too far, resulting is Zara’s father getting shot and arrested for trespassing, putting a black mark against them.
I finished Zara Hossain Is Here in one afternoon. I didn’t want to put it down! I read it soon after I had read The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali, which I also enjoyed, but made me furious. This one is more tame. It still deals with tough subjects and it made me mad in places, but it wasn’t at the level of the author’s debut novel.
Zara Hossain Is Here is all about bullying, racism, immigration, and feeling safe in your home. Zara is constantly harassed by a boy at school and one night it just goes too far. Her family has gone through the appropriate channels to deal with this boy at school, but now he’s brought his hate to their home. Zara’s father wants to speak with Tyler’s father at his home, but winds up getting shot for “trespassing and threats.” Of course, we know this is all racist bullcrap!
What follows is pretty intense. Will Zara’s father survive? Will he get arrested if he does pull through the emergency surgery? What does this mean for Zara’s family’s immigration status?! Are they going to be forced to leave the country because of some racist jerk? Well, things definitely take a different direction than I expected. I was a little iffy at first, because it seemed like there was just going to be a magic wand waved and everything was okay. Nope. There is a happy ending, but it took a turn I didn’t see coming.
I liked how Zara Hossain Is Here goes pretty deep into immigration status, green cards, visas, and all their requirements. Zara’s family is close to obtaining their green card after years and years in the country, with her father working in a hospital that sponsors them. However, criminal charges threaten that. Additionally, her parents just don’t feel safe in this country and maybe it is best to return to Pakistan. But what are Zara’s options? She’s close to graduation and starting college, has great friends and doesn’t want to leave.
Zara Hossain Is Here provides a new perspective and it’s one that I really enjoyed. Actions have consequences, as we already know. But actions from ignorance can really ruin someone’s life.