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Hollow Fires
Cover of Hollow Fires
Hollow Fires
A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed....
A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed....
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  • A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed. Perfect for fans of Sadie and Dear Martin.

    Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she's learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist's job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.
    Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he's more than a dead body, and more than "Bomb Boy." He was a person with a life worth remembering.
    Driven by Jawad's haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.

    This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.

About the Author-

  • Samira Ahmed is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filters; Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know; Internment, and Hollow Fires. She was born in Bombay, India, and has lived in New York, Chicago, and Kauai. Find her online at samiraahmed.com and on Twitter and Instagram @sam_aye_ahm.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2022
    An unconventional murder mystery takes a sharp look at racism and Islamophobia in America. Aspiring journalist Safiya Mirza, a high school senior in Chicago, has always wanted to tell the full story of DuSable Prep, the exclusive private school she attends on scholarship. But when 17-year-old Safiya starts reporting on White supremacist sympathies among members of the student body, she runs afoul of the administration. Chicago public school ninth grader Jawad Ali first received media attention after his teacher believed the jet pack he created for a school project was a bomb. Jawad's suspension leads people from local police to a right-wing talk show host to wonder if the Iraqi American child of refugees deliberately orchestrated a bomb hoax. When Jawad goes missing, the tightknit Muslim community in the area is shaken and wonders why the case isn't a police priority. After Indian American Safiya, whose family has roots in Hyderabad, starts investigating what happened, she begins hearing messages from Jawad's ghost, who leads her to his body. When, in a breathtaking twist, Safiya realizes that Jawad's killer is closer than anyone had ever imagined, she is both terrified and determined to bring about justice. Ahmed's gripping story details how racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of extremism are normalized on the internet and in the media. The book's skillful construction combined with its sharp observations makes it a must-read with strong reader appeal. A deeply chilling, inventive, and timely page-turner. (Thriller. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    March 15, 2022
    Grades 9-12 Ahmed (Internment, 2019) introduces readers to Chicago high-school journalist and Indian American Safiya, who, after an Iraqi refugee classmate is murdered, is determined to find his killer and hold them accountable. As Safiya gets closer to solving the case, her own safety is put in increasing jeopardy, and she starts to realize that not everything is as it seems. Told in alternating perspectives and interspersed with multimedia clippings, some taken from real-world sources, this is an all-too-real story that educates as much as it enthralls. As Safiya deals with racism, Islamophobia, and more, her story packs a heavy punch that brings some nuance to wealth and white privilege as well as to the process of white supremacist radicalization. But the fast-paced, intense story remains realistically grounded and centered on those most affected by the horrific consequences. Ahmed masterfully manages Safiya's naivete, which leads her to make the poor decisions that drive the issue-focused plot. For social justice-minded readers who love mystery and crime fiction, this will be popular with fans of Courtney Summers' Sadie (2018).

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 28, 2022
    When high school freshman Jawad Ali, the son of Iraqi refugees to the U.S., crafts a model jet pack for Halloween, he’s excited to showcase the approved makerspace project to his classmates and teachers. But the things go badly wrong with the costume: mistaken for wearing “something like a suicide bomber vest,” Jawad is marched out in handcuffs and suspended from school. Then, after receiving a series of threatening texts, he’s murdered. But Jawad’s ghost remains, communicating with 17-year-old Indian American Safiya Mirza, an aspiring journalist who grows to believe in their connection, and whom he leads to his body in a neglected area of Jackson Park. Spurred on by his spirit, Safiya works to solve the murder, a journey that forces her to face dark truths about their community, in which a festering hatred has led to threats against her mosque. Writing in dual perspectives that highlight Jawad’s innocence and Safiya’s determination amid personal themes of romance and friendship, Ahmed (Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know) weaves evocative prose with images, articles, and text messages to explore with skill and depth the twining of social media in an age of misinformation, alt-right political movements, and racism and Islamophobia. Ages 12–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2022

    Gr 9 Up-In this short-chaptered, dual-narrative exploration of the tragic confluence of Islamophobia and white supremacy, readers are privy to the diary entries of Safira, a young second-gen high school journalist's investigation into several hate crimes she thinks are connected: a cyberattack on the school newspaper, vandalism of her parents' Indian food store, and what's worse, a missing fellow high school student. Jawah, a 14-year-old child of Iraqi refugees is falsely accused of being a suicide bomber by a teacher after making a jetpack at the school's makerspace and is now missing. Jawah's chapters are brief attempts at directing Safira towards him and through his thoughtful recollections, readers slowly discover his truth. Introducing each chapter are statements in the form of facts, truths, and lies; interwoven are news reports, court briefings, police statements, blog posts, book chapters, radio transcripts, and more. This page-turner is sophisticated and easy-to-digest, a difficult balance to achieve, but Ahmed is extremely adept at threading pieces of a murder mystery together within the greater context of how the media influences youth. The portrait of immigrant families, small business owners both, and the role that kindness plays in undoing the spectrum of hurt-from bullying to the adoption of Nietzsche-fueled white supremacy-perpetrated in a small-town setting makes this a must-read for patrons in libraries across the country. VERDICT This impassioned ride toward the truth, based on a true story, will make readers think about the media bites they consume and white youth's easy access to radicalization.-Sara Lissa Paulson

    Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Horn Book

    July 1, 2022
    In a fast-paced thriller with elements of the supernatural, Ahmed (Internment, rev. 3/19) continues to explore issues of racism and Islamophobia. Chicago high-school senior and budding journalist Safiya Mirza attends exclusive DuSable Prep. When escalating white supremacist attacks at school and in her Muslim community get an indifferent response from law enforcement, a determined Safiya launches her own investigation -- and then a Muslim student, Jawad Ali, is found murdered. Jawad had already received attention from the media, becoming a scapegoat for right-wing conspiracy theorists, labeled a terrorist, and called "bomb boy" after a teacher mistook his cosplay jetpack for a weapon. Now, seeking closure, Jawad's ghost haunts Safiya as she pieces together the events of his violent death, determined to seek justice for him and to challenge systemic racism. In a novel that cleverly uses time jumps; alternates narration (between Safiya and ghost Jawad); and occasionally incorporates text messages, newspaper articles, and the like, Ahmed positions her story in the larger context of a racially divided world. Sadaf Siddique

    (Copyright 2022 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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