Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book is going to stay with me for a long time. I almost didn’t request it on NetGalley, because, honestly, I usually avoid religion like the plague because it scares the shit out of me – how it can completely brain wash someone.
Fifteen year old Muzna dreams of being a writer, while her overbearingly pushy parents only care about her becoming a doctor. Her parents control her life, and their family image is everything; so when her best friend is found in a boy’s bed, Muzna is forced to break all ties, and move school. And while her new school has its fair share of bullies, she quickly catches the eye of Arif. As they grow closer, Muzna’s believes are pushed to the extreme, and she is forced to decide between the people she loves and doing what is right.
I Am Thunder deals with radicalisation so well. Because as you go along with Muzna’s story, there are little warning signs here and there, but it’s only towards the end of the book that you actually realise how far things have gone. It was so subtle, and so easy to get caught up in if you were actually living it. It was fucking terrifying.
Muzna…dear, dear Muzna. She’s so vulnerable and timid at the beginning of the book, and to see her character development was so incredible. I loved seeing her standing up for herself and what’s right. I was rooting for her, all the time. Even when I wanted to bitch slap her. I loved her relationship with her English teacher, too. It was very sweet.
Her parents irritated the shit out of me, but I can understand that they only wanted to do what they thought was right (only they forgot the all important part where they actually listened to their daughter).
I loved the writing! It was so witty, without being forced; sometimes I find books set in England to be super cringe worthy and unrealistic, but the banter and the teenagers were both beautifully British.
Honestly? This is the sort of book that everyone needs to read. Because while, yes, there’s extremism and terrorism, there are also genuine Muslim’s, who want to live their lives and do everything they can for the world, who want the freedom to practice their faith in peace.
While this book is about racism, one thing that it does do extremely well is how racism is (or should be) dealt with at that time. I’m not talking about the victim, I’m talking about the bystanders; the people who turn a blind eye to the cruelty around them. The support that Muzna gets from one particular old woman on a bus gave me chills, and, as someone who has never had to deal with racism, it has definitely helped me appreciate the power that support has. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching novel, this is for you.
*thank you to the publisher for sending me a free e-arc of this book*