“Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there’s prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.
But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice – keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?
A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you’ll go to protect what you believe in.”
I received an ARC of I Am Thunder from Netgalley. This is one of the only UK books coming out next year that has been written by an author of colour. I’ve changed schools a lot, so I am always very interested in stories about children who change schools.
This book is #ownvoices for Pakistani British and Muslim representation.
I Am Thunder was a good read. It discusses how extremism can slowly creep into a person’s life, without them realising what is happening. It also shows how difficult it is for someone to get out of such a group. I was really invested in the climax and so worried about what was going to happen.
I wish that there had been more scenes with Khadijah and Muzna, as Khadijah was such a strong and feminist character and it would have been interesting to read more about their conversations with each other.
One of the scenes that I enjoyed a lot was when Muzna had an idea to write an essay about how if the Queen is British even though she has German roots, then she herself is just as British even though she has Pakistani roots.
It’s also great that it’s directly mentioned in the text that certain people might be Islamantagonistic because of their experiences, but it is just an explanation for their actions, not an excuse.
The one aspect that I really didn’t like was how Muzna thought she was ugly because she is fat and has a lot of body hair. She always puts herself down. In the end, it still feels like she cannot truly believe that the love interest would want to be with her.
There are some ableist words in the book.
I Am Thunder was a good book. It was a nice read but didn’t completely impress me. I want to recommend it to young adults because it discusses how extremism can take over a person’s life quietly, however the anti-fat, negative body hair, and ableist comments were never really addressed, and I think these comments could be hurtful to some readers.
Trigger warnings: Islamantagonism, terrorism, childhood sexual abuse.
Have you read I Am Thunder? What did you think of the story?