I adore books that open a door into the ‘similarities’ that we all have, despite our differences, and Patricia Dunn does this with her uniquely voiced character Mariam. Born in the US to Egyptian parents, she is railing against her parents’ rules, their ‘not-American’ traditions, and the way she feels ‘constrained’ and can’t wait to be old enough to live on her own and make her own rules.
But, being a teenager and wanting to fit in often means that you make some bad choices, and she snuck out to attend a party that got out of hand, and she got caught. Her father, really at the end of his rope and thinking that she needs to discover her roots and arranges for she and her best friend to travel to Egypt to stay with her Grandmother.
A complete change for a girl used to the western life and freedoms, the hustle and bustle of Egypt, the chaos, scenes, sounds and customs are not wholly unfamiliar, but are wholly shocking. A bit of the “I can’t BELIEVE” moments, feeling very much the outsider in a time when the country is on the brink of the Arab Spring , her unfamiliarity with the country and her anger at her parents for ‘banishing’ her to such an experience are clearly detailed, and feel very appropriate.
Characterizations in this story are beautifully crafted with depth and nuance, Mariam and Deanna are complete people who function (and feel) just like friends should. When one is leading, the other follows and compliments beautifully, without becoming a shadow. The undoubted third character of great importance in this story is Egypt itself: Dunn adds imagery, explains tradition and paints a picture that gives a feel and perspective of the people and the country that is far more complete than a travelogue without becoming a tourist guide. Of course, nothing beats experience firsthand, but Dunn adds in interactions, tension and the overwhelming chaos of the time that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The dangers inherent in a time of turmoil, keeps readers tense and brings memories of news reports of those days: the deaths, damage and chaos.
There are several different elements that converge in this story, and we see Mariam learn and grow significantly: gaining more confidence, connecting with the long history that is her heritage and even connecting with her grandmother. We won’t ignore her first romance and kiss, or the moments where her own insecurities had her feeling jealous twinges about her best friend: all of these elements added to the layers of the friendship making it even more solid.
I was intrigued and engaged throughout the entire book: whipping through the pages and sad to see it end. Patricia Dunn has created a story that is perfect for the tween through teen readers: the characters will feel familiar and real as they work their way through a very unfamiliar set of circumstances.
Title: Rebels by Accident
Author: Patricia Dunn
Genre: Teen Reads
Published by: Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦Audible
A Troubled Teen Sent to Cairo Finds Revolution is Everywhere, Including in Ourselves
When my first party ends in jail, I think things can’t possibly get worse. But then my parents send me to my grandmother in Cairo, and I’m sure my life is over. My sittu is Darth Vader’s evil sister, and I’m sure the only sites I’ll get to see in Egypt are the rooms in her apartment.
Turns out she’s not so bad. We ride camels by the pyramids and ice skate at a mall.
As Sittu says, “Sometimes a moment can change your life.” But it can change the life of a country too. When a girl named Asmaa calls the people of Egypt to protest, I find myself in the middle of a revolution, running from tear gas and guns.
Oh yeah, and I meet the cutest guy I’ve ever seen. Fall in love for the first time. And have my first kiss.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.