Zara Hossain Is Here

Rating: 5/5

“It’s so easy to paint all the people you don’t want to accept with the same brush. That way you can tell yourself you’re just protecting your way of life and that they’re the ones encroaching upon your space.”

TW: Biphobia, Islamaphobia, Racism/Bullying, & Gun Violence

Looking at Zara Hossain from the outside, it would appear that she was living typical life of a teenage. But beneath it all, Zara is struggling to find and accept who she truly is also while battling islamaphobia at her high school. She doesn’t want to cause any trouble that would bring more harm to her and those around her especially when it comes to her family. Especially since anything could jeopardize their family’s stay in Texas while awaiting the approval of their green card which has been nine years in the making. But, what happens when Zara’s tormenter Tyler Benson starts leaving threatening messages that leads to a violent incident that puts Zara’s future at risk?

As someone who identifies as white reading this story was important for me not just because of the LGBT themes but also racism, bullying, and islamaphobia. These are important themes that people should be educated and I felt like I was taking more away from this book than I anticipated. Especially in the wake of what has been happening in the last year or so and recently with the attacks on Asian American’s. I liked how she captured the racial prejudice that immigrants face in and outside their communities. I’ve taken a few courses during my counseling degree that actually talk about this particular issue and it can impact so much and it’s very sad.

I loved Zara, I thought she was a very well written protagonist and relatable. I felt for her especially when she was dealing with biphobia and islamphobia throughout her journey of not only living in Texas but attending a Christian High School. This is how she meets her love interest, Chloe who is also dealing with her own struggles that include her homophobic parents who refuse to believe that their daughter is part of the LGBT community. The other characters were well-written that really give great dynamics throughout the story. So in short, I think everyone should read this book because I took a lot away from it and I think others will too.

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