A Muslim Teen Deals With Racist Violence In Her Texas Town In This New YA Novel

by Kerri Jarema
Originally Published: 
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Young adult author Sabina Khan's debut novel, The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali, was one of the most buzzed-about books of early 2019. It was a compelling and heart-wrenching story about 17-year-old Rukhsana's struggle to live up to her conservative Muslim parents' expectations while staying true to her own identity as a queer woman, and it made Khan an author to watch. Now, the author is back with Zara Hossain Is Here, due to hit shelves in August 2020. Bustle's got the cover reveal and an exclusive excerpt from the book below!

Zara Hossain Is Here follows 17-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara, who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas with her family. Though she deals with Islamophobia at school, Zara lays low so she won't jeopardize her family's dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years. But one day her tormentor — star football player Tyler Benson — leaves a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against Zara for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize her house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts her entire future at risk. Now she must choose between fighting to stay in the only place she's ever called home, or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

The book is inspired by Khan's own experience growing up as a Bangladeshi immigrant in Corpus Christi, and it takes a timely, unflinching look at what it means to live in America today. Zara Hossain Is Here won't be available until August 2020, but you can start reading now:



A loud bang wakes me up. I bolt upright and for a second, I’m disoriented. I hear Zorro somewhere barking and I grab my phone off the nightstand. It’s 2 am. I trudge downstairs, pretty sure that the noise was just in my dream. But then I hear footsteps outside our front door and the fog clears. I’m wide awake now. Ammi comes down the stairs behind me, her hair ruffled and eyes squinting against the hallway light. The door is open, and Zorro is just inside, barking incessantly. I quickly pick him up, put him into the enclosure off the kitchen, and go back to the front. I’m about to go outside, but Abbu is already there, shooing me back in. He’s holding the cricket bat he always keeps under his bed in case of intruders.

“Abbu, are you okay? What happened?”

“Just stay inside.”

Ammi is right beside me, but Abbu motions for her to stay where she is.

“Both of you, please don’t come out.”

“Iqbal, what is going on?” Ammi pushes past me, and I follow on her heels.

“Nilufer I told you—"

He stops because Ammi has turned white as a ghost.

“Hai Allah! Who did this?” She has her hands on her head, mouth open, staring at our house.

I follow her eyes and freeze.

The words “GO HOME, TERRORISTS” have been spray-painted in bright red, dripping like blood down the garage door beneath my bedroom window.

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