All relationships have rough spots, but if you have a difficult mother-daughter relationship, this YA novel will give you insight into holding on and letting go.
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Struggling with a Difficult Mother-Daughter Relationship?
I grew up with a laid-back mom who supported my crazy childhood endeavors. She let me make and sell bread to the neighbors, brought a free pony home in a van, and allowed me to sew whatever I wanted in her sewing room. Meeting my future mother-in-law produced a shock to my worldview of mother-daughter relationships. The cultural differences befuddled me, and I didn’t always react with grace (or even kindness). Although I didn’t have a difficult mother-daughter relationship, I can understand the heartache of wanting to get along with someone who seems to fundamentally misunderstand everything about you.
Shukairy treats the mother-daughter relationships in this book with kindness and grace. Readers come away with a better understanding of why difficult mothers act the way they do and examples of how relationships can find healing. So even if you gave up reading YA literature when you hit your mid-twenties, crack open the covers of The Next New Syrian Girl for a cultural and relational treat.
By Ream Shukairy, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 14, 2023, 416 pages, 12+.
The older she gets, the more difficult Khadija Shami finds it to get along with her mother. A senior in high school and almost 18, Khadi spends long hours practicing boxing at a gym her mother disapproves of. The more she yearns to escape her mother’s overbearing insistence on Khadi turning into a perfect Syrian daughter, the clingier her mother becomes.
Khadi can’t wait until her birthday when her mother will no longer have legal control of her. She wants what every American girl on the cusp of graduation wants. To make decisions on her own, live authentically, and orchestrate her love life. Khadi takes up boxing for self-protection. One too many racist bullies have lumped her together with all Muslims—including terrorists.
Leene Taher, a Syrian refugee and utter failure as a daughter, has nothing in common with Kadija Shami. But for some unknown reason, Kadija’s mother has invited Leene and her mother to live with them until they get on their feet in their adopted country. Leene doesn’t understand Khadija with her blunt ways and hostility. But she knows if she could avoid charity, she would. Detroit, MI, feels nothing like Syria or any of the refugee camps they’ve lived in.
If only Leene and her mother could put the sadness of the past behind them, maybe they would start to thrive. But the past slams into Leene at her welcome party. Only by befriending Khadija, will she hope to make amends for her past mistake.
What I Loved About This Book
Told from alternative points of view (Khadija’s and Leene’s), the author skillfully weaves a story of two Syrian girls seeking to find their place in the world. One fights against her Americanized Syrian privilege, and the other fights the memories of her war-torn country.
Readers will relate to both narrators as they struggle with guilt, family pressure, and learning how to adapt. Any reader who has had a difficult mother-daughter relationship will cheer for Khadija as she struggles to understand her mother and communicate honestly. This own-voices story helps readers understand more about the problems in Syria and the hardships of living as a refugee.You'll love this beautiful debut novel from @ream_shu and @littlebrown, especially if you have a difficult mother. #relationships #amreading #ownvoices Click To Tweet