The lives of three teens collide in I Hope You Get This Message. This YA novel kicks off with an alien planet threatening to destroy Earth in seven days. With the clock ticking, the three teens each set out on their own mission: Adeem heads for Roswell, New Mexico to track down his sister, Jesse believes he’s found a way to contact the alien planet, and Cate hopes to find her estranged father. To celebrate the book’s release, debut author Farah Naz Rishi rounded up six upcoming YA novels by Muslim authors that readers should have on their TBR shelves.
Growing up Muslim in a post-9/11 world was a pretty lonely experience (understatement of the year), and I often turned to books for comfort. Books helped—don’t they always?—but I found myself craving voices like mine, protagonists I could relate to, and stories where Muslims were heroes, struggling with and overcoming the same problems and fears I did. Now, thankfully, there are more Muslim books on shelves than ever before, with even more to look forward to. Here are six of the upcoming young adult books by Muslim authors that I’m already obsessed with—and I’m sure you will be, too!
Part one of a duology, The Light at the Bottom of the World is an action-packed, futuristic sci-fi novel that envisions the city of London submerged beneath the ocean. As if this concept wasn’t cool enough, the book also features a British Muslim Pashtun heroine who competes in the London Submersible Marathon (think: epic deep-sea submarine race) to rescue her father. I can already tell this is going to be an emotional journey that deals with familial relationships, overthrowing corrupt governments, and the terrors of the ocean—basically all the things I love.
What does it mean to be a “good Muslim?” It’s a question that plagued me growing up, especially when I felt torn between embracing my faith and living in a country that seemed a little less than receptive to Muslims. But All-American Muslim Girl is a book that strives to tackle this impossible question, and Allie Abraham—the book’s Circassian-American Muslim protagonist—promises to be the courageous and determined character I yearned to read about when I was a kid. This is going to be a book that’s relatable for all readers, and a strong reminder to live as our authentic selves.
Do you ever read a description of an upcoming book and just… scream? That’s what happened to me when I first read about Samira Ahmed’s upcoming YA. I adore books with dual intersecting narratives, especially when they take place in entirely different time periods, and I know this book—an empowering tapestry of French classic literature and romance—will be no exception. That cover alone is enough to incite some very strong emotions, and it perfectly hints at the book’s deeper message: The empowerment of Muslim women is timeless.
In this unapologetically queer Bengali romantic comedy, two teen girls enter a school business competition with rival henna businesses. The fierce competition between them gets complicated by their growing feelings for each other. This is the kind of own voices story that’s quietly revolutionary, and I’m so excited to see it on shelves. I’m a sucker for most rom coms, but a queer Muslim rom com? I needed that, um, yesterday.
I’m a total sucker for rom coms. They’re like comfort food: reliable and sugar-coated and familiar—a quick hit of faith in an overwhelmingly cynical world. Yes No Maybe So, at first glance, sounds like it could be another cliché boy-meets-girl love story. Except that we’ve got two very different teens—Jewish boy and cinnamon roll Jamie Goldberg, and Muslim girl Maya Rehman—who meet through political canvassing. Local political activism! Cross-cultural romance! The sweet, funny writing sensibilities of two of the more brilliant young adult authors of our time! I’m simultaneously furious I didn’t have this book when I was a teen, and also grateful that this book will be in my hands just in time Valentine’s Day next year.
At Niveus Private Academy, archrivals Devon and Chiamaka are forced to work together after an anonymous texter known only as “Aces” begins revealing their secrets. Described as an “explosive” high school thriller, this book has already gotten me at the edge of my seat with the use of one of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-necessary-partners.
Farah Naz Rishi is a Pakistani-American Muslim writer and voice actor, but in another life, she’s worked stints as a lawyer, a video game journalist, and an editorial assistant. She received her B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College, her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School, and her love of weaving stories from the Odyssey Writing Workshop. When she’s not writing, she’s probably hanging out with video game characters. I Hope You Get This Message is her first novel. You can find her at home in Philadelphia, or on Twitter at @far_ah_way.