*I received a free advance copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 25th January 2018
I Am Thunder is the debut novel of Muhammad Khan, a British-Pakistani teacher. This YA book is exciting, refreshing and most importantly an #ownvoices story.
The story is told from the point of view of a young British-Pakistani Muslim girl, Muzna. She grows up being the victim of bullies, being pressured by her parents to follow a certain career and told by the media that her religion is evil. After a scandal she is forced to go to a new school where the dazzling and handsome Arif takes an interest in her, much to her surprise. Arif and his older brother try to guide Muzna and teach her more about Islam, which she is open to as she resents that her non-practicing parents have not taught her much about her religion. Muzna then goes on a journey, learning more about her religion, herself and the kind of person she wants to be.
Reading this book, as a Muslim woman, I could relate to a lot of Muzna’s experiences; getting stares for wearing the hijab, cruel comments after a terrorist attack has taken place somewhere in the world and trying to defend Islam to people who don’t want to listen. There were many scenes involving situations like this which were very well written and they were sadly also very realistic.
Muzna struggles to find the version of Islam which suits her; meanwhile she is trying to defend it against racists and Islamophobes. She finds that she must also stop the one closest to her from being radicalised and getting caught up in something from which there is no coming back. As the story progresses, Muzna’s character develops as she learns more about the way she wants to practice her religion and as a reader this was satisfying to see.
I’m so happy that this book has been written. Young Muslim girls, and in particular Pakistani Muslim girls, now have a character that they can relate to and represents them as well as a book that stands up for them.
It’s so important for young Muslim girls to be able to see themselves represented in books and more importantly; represented as the hero. Not many books feature young Muslim girls let alone as the protagonist and this story importantly highlights to readers some of the issues that can arise for young Muslim girls from their perspective.
This is also an important book for everyone to read; no matter their religion, beliefs, race or ethnicity. This story allows everyone to have an insight into the mind and upbringing of a young Pakistani girl who is struggling to find her place in the world whilst trying to balance her religion, culture and keeping her parents happy.
I Am Thunder has also been compared to The Hate U Give for the way it gives a voice to a group that is marginalised by society on a national level and I would agree with this.
I hope this book paves the way for more #ownvoices books like it.
#ownvoices is a movement which started on Twitter. It initially started as an organised way to recommend, promote and encourage diverse books in which the author and the character share an identity which is marginalised. #ownvoices is about any and all marginalised voices being the ones to tell their own stories.