Zara Hossain is Here

This new YA novel is a poignant and powerful story about the racism and prejudice faced by immigrants. As the only Muslim in her conservative Texas Catholic high school, Zara stands out, and not for the reasons she wants to. Zara is a high school senior at a wealthy private school in Corpus Christi, thanks to her dad’s job as a paediatrician at the local hospital. Life at school isn’t exactly smooth sailing. Every day she faces abuse and horrible comments, especially from Tyler Benson. But when she dares to challenge him, he vandalises her locker, which sets off a major chain of events.

Zara is a phenomenally strong character, going through a powerful and coming of age experience. This book tackles tough themes like racism, biphobia, gun violence, xenophobia, and bullying. Zara has a robust and loving relationship with her parents, an addition to this novel this reviewer really appreciated as it juxtaposes the support and back up she receives at home compared to her relationship with peers of her own age at her high school.

Zara’s parents contemplate moving back to Pakistan, but that will upend Zara’s life; and being bisexual, she’ll face even more prejudice from her own people. But how can she stay, if her parents go? She must choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.