An extraordinary and timely novel, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor Book, examines what it’s like to grow up under surveillance in America.
Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.
Naeem is a Bangledeshi teenager living in Queens who thinks he can charm his way through anything. But then mistakes catch up with him. So do the cops, who offer him an impossible choice: spy on his Muslim neighbors and report back to them on shady goings-on, or face a police record. Naeem wants to be a hero—a protector. He wants his parents to be proud of him. But as time goes on, the line between informing and entrapping blurs. Is he saving or betraying his community?
Inspired by actual surveillance practices in New York City and elsewhere, Marina Budhos’s extraordinary and timely novel examines what it’s like to grow up with Big Brother always watching. Naeem’s riveting story is as vivid and involving as today’s headlines.
Walter Dean Myers Award Honor Book, We Need Diverse Books
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book
YALSA Best YA Fiction for Young Adults
“A fast-moving, gripping tale.” —SLJ, Starred
A Muslim teen adrift in his post-9/11 Queens neighborhood makes a dangerous bargain in a stirring novel about coming of age amid intensive police surveillance and racial profiling. After 11-year-old Naeem travels from Bangladesh to Jackson Heights to live with his father, stepmother, and half-brother, he begins a slow slide from treasured firstborn to charming but failing slacker. By senior year, Naeem mostly spends time cruising around with his older friend, Ibrahim, who is the reason Naeem gets caught with stolen merchandise after a mall trip. Two NYPD detectives offer Naeem a deal: he can become everything his community fears a watcher, a rat or his shoplifting will become more than a stupid mistake. Naeem immerses himself in the Muslim community, feeding what seems like innocuous information to the police, unsure whether he's the hero or villain in his own story. Through Naeem's perceptive, conflicted narration, Budhos (Tell Us We're Home) captures the tug of youthful innocence leeching away as hard, unjust realities set in with a mix of apprehension and genuine emotion. Ages 12 up. Agency: Brandt & Hochman.