From critically acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a “tender story that’s both realistic and hopeful” (Publishers Weekly), set in Cairo, Egypt, about the barriers we tear down for the people and places we love most.
Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.
But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.
With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But what she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.
Instead of enjoying her senior year of high school in Ohio, Caroline Kelly unexpectedly moves to Cairo, "where the government is not super-stable and the fear of terrorism is real," so her mother can fulfill a dream of opening an eye clinic in "Garbage City," home to Cairo's most impoverished inhabitants. A practicing Catholic, Caroline is eager to learn about Islam and Egyptian culture, but she struggles to adjust to the crowded urban environment, the mosque's predawn calls to prayer, the fact that she needs a driver to take her around the city, and frequent sexual harassment. A growing friendship with her driver's teenage children, Adam and Aya, helps her acclimate, and things look up when she discovers that her crush on Adam is mutual. With humor, sensitivity, and empathy, Doller (The Devil You Know) conveys the complexities of an interfaith, intercultural romance: the blatant disapproval from Adam's family and friends, her parents' worry ("The kind thing to do would be to leave him alone"), and Adam's own doubts. It's a tender story that's both realistic and hopeful. Ages 12 up.