Today, we're hosting a blog tour stop for Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn.
This is a powerful, thoughtful story about a girl who goes to Egypt for a vacation, but finds herself caught in the middle of a revolution.
I watched the Egyptian revolution unfold in TV while I was attending graduate school in London, so I felt an immediately kinship with the plot and wanted to read this book.
And after reading it, I can safely say - you'll want to read it too.
Paperback, 290 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format read: E-ARC via NetGalley
That's not easy when she's the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she's in trouble...big trouble.
Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam's parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.
But Marian's strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.
As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.
It was a surprising experience to witness secondhand, and I was always left wondering just what someone would feel if they were witnessing the revolution directly, but were also like me - someone with ties to a country by ancestral heritage, but hadn't actually grown up in that country.
Which is why when I was offered the opportunity to read Rebels by Accident, I immediately said yes. I wanted to see how Dunn related Mariam's experiences in Egypt, and eagerly dug in.
Miriam's one saving grace has been her best friend Deanna. But a mistake at their first high school party lands both of them in jail, and then on a plane to Egypt, as a way for Mariam to reconnect with her roots.
However, Egypt is a country on the brink of dangerous revolution, and Mariam and Deanna are soon caught in a country that is about to be completely swept up in change.
Dunn does a wonderful job of bringing readers into Mariam's world, by first showing readers the struggles that she's undergone in New York, as a byproduct of the tensions that has existed in a post-9/11 world. While Mariam is frustrated by her naivete of her classmates, Dunn is also careful to show Mariam's struggle to juxtapose both her American and Egyptian heritage, something that many readers will likely relate to.
Upon Mariam and Deanna's arrival in Cairo, Dunn integrates the readers into the ongoing struggles of the nation through her grandmother Sittu, who is surprisingly enlightened and committed to change. Through Sittu, Mariam and the reader learn that revolution isn't something that just begins with the young, and it's something that many may well spend most of their lives trying to achieve.
As the revolution grows in strength, Dunn doesn't hesitate to show the violence and the chaos that comes with sweeping change. There are several instances that are surprisingly detailed for a YA novel, but readers will likely be more appreciative of Dunn's commitment to fully allowing a readers to experience the depth of revolutionary chaos vis-a-vis her characters.
While the ending of the book feels slightly slower in pace than the rest of Mariam and Deanna's journey, with Mubarak officially resigning, there's a defense feeling of "what now?" which is true to real life, and to how many Egyptians felt after the resignation.
Bottom line, Dunn has spectacularly captured a poignant and true moment in 21st century history, that is worth reading and worth sharing with others.
This not only helps younger readers (and really, readers of all ages!) understand world-changing events from a teen perspective, but it also helps open all of our eyes to a different perspective than our own. And this is why YA continues to be one of the most important and popular genres right now.
Rebels by Accident is the type of book that I would wholeheartedly recommend for readers of all ages, especially for fans of contemporary fiction. I would also recommend this book for both educators and parents looking to explain the Arab Spring - Dunn brings up plenty of good questions and ideas, that will allow all readers to begin to understand the revolution through a more intimate perspective.