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Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi is a juvenile fiction book for 5-7th graders.

Yusuf Azeem has always lived in a small town in Texas. He's quiet and smart and his only goal is to compete in the regional robotics competition. But Frey, Texas is a football town and robotics is not high on the list of priorities. Not only is Yusuf struggling to pull together a team for the competition but the atmosphere of Frey becomes heavy as the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks approaches.

Everyone in Yusuf's Muslim community are uneasy as “Never Forget” banners are hung and the building of a Mosque suddenly comes under fire. With the anniversary approaching, Yusuf realizes that prejudice comes to even the smallest town and he doesn't know how to feel about a period of time he didn't live through but overshadows everything around him.

I questioned if I should really review this book or not because it took me a while to get into it and I read it very peicemeal. I even skimmed a bulk of the middle of it. So, that is your full disclosure before reading this review.

This is an important and emotional story and should be one that you are ready to read to the end without stopping and starting like I did. I think that's where I went wrong. I was reading multiple books at the same time, when I should have stopped and just given this one a try. That being said, I could see the heart in this book and could feel the power of the topic coming through.

Faruqi is able to inject a seriousness into the book without it feeling hopeless. The book shows this juxtaposition between those who lived through 911, lived through it and remembers it, and those who grow up knowing about it but also not fully understanding it. There is sometimes this hesitancy to talk about 911 and I think this book perfectly sums up the very different ways people take, "Never Forget."

This book shows the ways the terror attacks on 911 forever changed our country and through his uncle's journals, Yusuf gets a glimpse into the past while living through the repercussions of the present. This book gets 4 stars from me.

That's all for now!



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