Reem Faruqi

Middle Grade, HarperCollins, May 2021 

Front Desk meets Veera Hiranandani's The Night Diary in Reem Faruqi's debut middle grade novel in verse, UNSETTLED. 

When Nurah and her family move from Karachi, Pakistan to Peachtree City, Georgia, she feels like she stands out for all the wrong reasons, especially when all she really wants is to blend in. At school, Nurah’s accent, floral print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel ostracized. She eats lunch alone underneath the stairwell, until she meets Stahr when she goes to her first swimming class. Stahr covers her body in the water just like Nurah, but for very different reasons. 

But in the water, Nurah doesn’t want to blend: she wants to stand out. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais, who is going through struggles of his own in America - both in and out of the water. Nurah is learning how to stand up for what she believes in when sibling rivalry gets in the way, and she makes a split-second decision not to speak up that leads to a serious hate crime. 

Nurah slowly begins to sprout wings in the forms of strong swimming arms, and makes decisions about who she wants to be, which leads her to her first medal in a race, to making amends with her brother, and to her first real friend. 

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World English: Harper Children's