A powerful and thought-provoking YA debut from New York Times bestselling author Laura Moriarty.
Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.
Fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary Williams of Hannibal, Missouri, lives in this world, and though she has strong opinions on almost everything, she isn’t concerned with the internments because she doesn’t know any Muslims. She assumes that everything she reads and sees in the news is true, and that these plans are better for everyone’s safety.
But when she happens upon Sadaf, a Muslim fugitive determined to reach freedom in Canada, Sarah-Mary at first believes she must turn her in. But Sadaf challenges Sarah-Mary’s perceptions of right and wrong, and instead Sarah-Mary decides, with growing conviction, to do all she can to help Sadaf escape.
The two set off on a desperate journey, hitchhiking through the heart of an America that is at times courageous and kind, but always full of tension and danger for anyone deemed suspicious.
In 16-year-old Sarah-Mary's near-future America, the U.S Mexico border is closed and Muslims are being sent to internment camps. These aren't things Sarah-Mary thinks about much. She doesn't know any Muslims; she and her younger brother, Caleb, are stuck living with their strict aunt; and she hates her suffocating Baptist high school. Then Caleb insists that she help a Muslim woman get to safety in Canada, and her journey with "Chloe" begins. In her YA debut, Moriarty (The Chaperone) incorporates several familiar road trip themes as the two hitchhike north, but the real story is Sarah-Mary's awakening to her own prejudices and intolerance. Sarah-Mary is resourceful and good at thinking on her feet, constantly checking her moral compass against what she's been told; smart, exhausted Sadaf (aka Chloe), an engineer whose biggest mistake was loving the U.S. too much to leave, worries about herself, her family, and the dangerous situation she's putting Sarah-Mary in. A string of coincidences in the final chapters are a letdown, but Moriarty's novel remains an effective tale of dawning awareness and the risks and rewards of following one's conscience. Ages 13 up.