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I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I Am Thunder

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"15-year-old Muzna Saleem is passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a novelist. There's just one problem - her super-controlling parents have already planned her life out for her: Step 1: Get educated. Step 2: Qualify as a doctor. Step 3: Marry a cousin from Pakistan. Oh, and boyfriends are totally haram.

"No one is more surprised than humble Muzna when high school hottie, Arif Malik, takes an interest in her. But Arif and his brother are angry at the West for demonising Islam and hiding a terrible secret. As Arif begins to lead Muzna down a dark path, she faces a terrible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak up and betray her heart?"

I’m calling it now: I Am Thunder is a strong contender for one of my favourite books of 2018. It’s timely, diverse and has a powerful message.

It’s quite astounding to see a debut that’s so insightful and established, but Muhammad Khan has achieved this and more. Munza is a wonderful character; she’s smart and brave and you get led down the dark path right alongside her, without quite spotting what’s going on until later in the story. Khan also gives a realistic depiction of teenagers and how we act, which is refreshing to see.

I Am Thunder is all about finding the power of your voice and grapples with some dark themes. It’s a fantastically bold and indispensable addition to UK YA.