I Am Thunder
Inspired by real-life events that saw three British Muslim schoolgirls leave their lives behind to become brides of ISIS, this outstanding début interrogates religious extremism and what it really means to be both British and Muslim.
I am Thunder follows fifteen-year-old Muzna as she struggles to find her place in the world. Forced to obey the rules of her strict Pakistani parents, Muzna fears she will never realise her dreams of becoming a writer if she cannot find a voice to stand up to her family. When she moves to a new school, Muzna is surprised and delighted to find that handsome Arif, who could have his pick of the girls, takes an interest in her. Well hidden from her parents, Muzna and Arif’s relationship blossoms as he encourages her to become more interested in their shared Muslim faith. There’s just one problem: Arif’s brother Jameel’s religious devotion seems to verge on extremism, which is at odds with the Islam Muzna has come to understand. When Jameel’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, Muzna begins to wonder what he is really hiding. Gripping and hugely topical, I am Thunder dispels misunderstandings about the Islamic faith and investigates what could make young people turn to religious radicalisation. Expertly brought to life by Muhammad Khan’s own experiences of racism, Islamophobia and growing up Muslim in Britain, I am Thunder is a page-turner from the beginning and definitely one to watch from a fantastic new voice in UK YA.