Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award — Winner, Young Adult • High Plains Book Award — Winner, Young Adult • Red Maple Fiction Award — Shortlisted • Snow Willow Award — Shortlisted
Sadia wishes life in high school was as straightforward as a game of basketball.
Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. Her best friend Mariam, on the other hand, wants to get noticed by the popular crowd and has started de-jabbing, removing her hijab, at school every morning. Sadia’s mom had warned her that navigating high school could be tricky. As much as she hates to admit it, her mom was right.
When tryouts for an elite basketball team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Mariam, Sadia’s parents, and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right — on and off the court.
Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi, a Muslim immigrant from Syria, learns that young voices can still be powerful in Nelson's story about being loyal to one's beliefs. After living for three years in Winnipeg with her family ("We'd left Syria just before things went haywire"), Sadia is well-adjusted and happy, but she is constantly reminded that she's an outsider, and her freshman year brings many challenges. Sadia's best friend Nazreen, who is also Muslim, starts "de-jabbing" (removing her hijab) and changing into revealing clothes at school; the distance between the girls increases after they learn that they both have a crush on the same guy and Sadia befriends new student Amira, a refugee from Syria. Sadia is thrilled to make the basketball team, but she's hindered by her hijab on the court, and she may not be able to play in an upcoming tournament if she doesn't remove it. The characters can be somewhat one-dimensional, but Nelson (Blood Brothers) writes compellingly about Sadia's passion for basketball, her evolving friendship with Nazreen, and the way that Amira forces her to confront the current state of affairs in Syria. Ages 12 up. , Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the protagonist's name in one instance.