Welcome back to The Big Five (+1) in YA: a series of posts on religion in young adult novels. Previously, I’ve posted about Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Today, we are moving on to Islam. I’d like to start by saying that I feel the following books provide insight into a religion that is all too often stereotyped and villainized in American society. However, as I was putting together this list of books to feature, I also noticed that every novel but one includes an Islamic terrorist act or organization as part of the story line. Within the context of each individual novel, I don’t feel that any of them perpetuate the negative stereotype of “Muslims are terrorists,” but taken as a trend, it is somewhat disturbing to think that four out of five of my featured books deal with violent acts by Muslims.
Borderline by Allan Stratton
Sami Sabiri, the only Muslim student at his school, faces daily bullying from his classmates and increasing distance from his Iranian father at home. Then the FBI implicates Sami’s dad in the plotting of a terrorist organization, and Sami has to find out the truth behind their accusations.
The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson
Paterson’s novel focuses on a Muslim group that some students may not realize exists: Muslim Albanians, who faced incredible persecution in the Kosovo war. Brought as refugees to the United States, the Albanian family in this novel also face intolerance from their small Vermont community after the events of 9/11.