This middle grade novel by bestselling author Nadia Hashimi tells the affecting story of an Afghan-American boy who believes his mother has been deported. For fans of Inside Out and Back Again and Counting by 7s.
Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.
When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.
After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.
Hashimi (One Half from the East) addresses the plight of undocumented immigrants while taking readers on a glorious, madcap race through Manhattan. Twelve-year-old Jason Riazi, the novel's guileless narrator, has just learned that although he is an American citizen, his mother is not, having overstayed her student visa. When he sees her being taken away by two official-looking men, he assumes that she is being sent back to Afghanistan, and he boards a train from New Jersey to Penn Station, hoping to use a partial street address to locate his Auntie Seema. A concussion lands him in the hospital, where he meets the delightfully smart-mouthed Max, a self-proclaimed genius who is hooked up to a slew of wires. Both strangers to New York City, they escape the hospital together and are soon navigating the subways, the annual marathon, and the Central Park Zoo while being pursued by frantic adults. A winsome supporting cast, snappy dialogue, and nonstop adventures just shy of fantastic make this a thought-provoking, heartwarming page-turner. Ages 8 12.