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In this bold debut novel in verse, an Iranian American teen meets his grandparents for the first time, crushes on a classmate, tries reinventing himself through Shakespeare, and falls in love with rap music in the aftermath of 9/11. For fans of The Poet X and A Very Large Expanse of Sea.
Omid is ready. Ready to stop being tongue-tied. Ready to step out of his best friend’s shadow. Ready to show the world what he is capable of. All he needs are the right words. Words to connect with his recently arrived grandfather and his distant Iranian heritage. Words to tell the new girl at school how much she means to him. Words to show everyone that he truly belongs in Tucson, where he was born.
Finding those words feels impossible, though—neither Shakespeare’s English nor his parents’ Farsi give Omid anything to work with—until he discovers rap, and something in those rhymes gives him hope. But as Omid explores rap music, the reverberation of fallen towers in far-off New York transforms once-familiar accents into new threats. Omid’s grandfather disappears, and it seems like everyone but Omid knows why. When words fail Omid altogether and violence takes their place, where will he go from here?
Arya Shahi’s debut novel explores the challenges faced by first-generation Americans, the experience of being Persian American after 9/11, and the role of language in defining who we are.
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