Tuesday, May 19, 2020

YA Review: The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya

Title: The Royal Abduls
Author: Ramiza Shamoun Koya
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction 
Pages: 303
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map):USA (DC, OH)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Ramiza Shamoun Koya reveals the devastating cost of anti-Muslim sentiment in The Royal Abduls, her debut novel about a secular Indian American family. Evolutionary biologist Amina Abdul accepts a post-doc in Washington, DC, choosing her career studying hybrid zones over a faltering West Coast romance. Her brother and sister-in-law welcome her to the city, but their marriage is crumbling, and they soon rely on her to keep their son company. Omar, hungry to understand his roots, fakes an Indian accent, invents a royal past, and peppers his aunt with questions about their cultural heritage. When he brings an ornamental knife to school, his expulsion triggers a downward spiral for his family, even as Amina struggles to find her own place in an America now at war with people who look like her. With The Royal Abduls, Koya ignites the canon of post-9/11 literature with a deft portrait of second-generation American identity.

Review: I am having a terrible time concentrating on reading during this pandemic. It took me about ten days just to read this one book! Normally I would do it in 2 or 3. Sigh. I feel like this book should be ranked a 4.5 (and it is ranked about that in Goodreads), but for me, it is a 4.

It was difficult to like Amina at first because she seemed so negative. She didn't want to deal with her family, she doesn't really like kids so didn't want to hang out with her nephew, and she was negative about her new workplace in Washington, DC. I think that contributed to me not really getting into the swing of this book until about half way in, but I did like the second half. I started to understand the characters more (Amina in particular), care about them and what happened to them, and I feel like the action picked up.

One important aspect of the book that was handled well is the treatment of Muslims in the United States post 9/11. From trouble at work to the way they were treated by strangers, this was (and still is) an issue in this country. During 9/11 I was married to an Arab and it was awful to see the transformation and the way he was treated in the early 2000s. The characters in this book had to deal with misunderstandings at school and work, and they brought that tension home with them.

My favorite character was Omar, Amina's nephew. He is innocence, curiosity, and tween angst all rolled up on one. While I am not raving about this book, I have found myself thinking about it over the past 24 hours since finishing it, so that says something really good about it.

Challenges for which this counts: 
This book counts for the Pop Sugar challenge because a character has a vision impairment (the author, the main character, wears glasses). This is a nod to 20/20 vision.
 

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