Monday, January 30, 2017

Watched by Marina Budhos - ESSENTIAL

Budhos, Marina Watched 265 pgs. Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2016. $17.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG Violence: G
Naeem lives in Queens New York. He is a fairly typical teen, not doing his best in school, goofing off, and hanging out with an entertaining and dangerous friends. When he finds himself in legal trouble, his is given an interesting escape option, to act as a spy of sorts. Because he is from a Muslim community (though his connection to this has been minimal) his job is to become involved with the Muslim community of New York City and to report everything he can observe and discover, so that potential terrorist threats can be nipped in the bud. Naeem is thrilled at first, they even pay him, but as he delves deeper into his own community, he finds himself wondering if he is doing the right thing.
I thought this was a fantastic read. Its brings to light the issue both the issue of the treatment of the Muslim American community and of surveillance; the reasons, the methods, the conclusions, and the costs. As the main character becomes more involved in his religion and community his world view changes and his life changes, he is forced to question his involvement in the surveillance and make some tough choices.  I loved that this book addressed the current misconceptions and attitudes toward the Muslim culture and our Muslim residents in the United States, it’s an incredibly relevant and important issue that is in the forefront of current events. I find myself wondering if it’s common for young people to be coerced into situations by the police to inform on their own community. Because of its main character, I think many students will relate to this book and find engaging to read, while boarding horizons and inspiring discussion.
HS – ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author

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