by Beth Fred (link goes to her blog, it’s great btw)
A turbulent, emotionally charged YA novel that breaks down barriers and challenges the status quo…
Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller.
Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride.
But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond.
When Mirriam’s family discovers their relationship, they decide it’s time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.
This book holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it set in Texas (my home state) but I’ve had the privilege and joy to have seen this book from it’s earlier stages, pre-agented and publication, to now. I know how hard the author, Beth Fred has worked to make this book what it is now, and it is with all my heart I wish her a HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!! That being said, I honestly believe this book deserves its five owl rating.
From the beginning, Beth paints a picture of a small Texas town with prejudices and such one might think a small Texas town might have yet through the course of the book she weaves a story of how two people from very different backgrounds can fall in love.
I’m not one for romances. I like the when they’re done well and truly add to the story, but especially in YA, they’re overused, overdone, and often not fully fleshed out. At first, when Beth asked me to beta read a much earlier version, I was afraid it was going to be a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of two people who thought they knew what love was then did some tragically stupid stuff. Thankfully, it wasn’t. With Mirriam and Caleb, it feels real. There was no insta love (Thank goodness). No and then we lived happily ever after. I appreciated how the story is so real and fresh. How the Caleb has to work to gain Mirriam’s love, how Mirriam doesn’t, like so many YA young women protagonists, fall in love with him from the get go. I also think the story was highly realistic. They come from completely different cultures. It would not have been easy for them to get together.
Oh, and the minor characters are great. I love Mirriam’s brother, Abe. I’ve also had the privilege to read more of his point of view, and let me tell you, the writing, the characterization, it only gets better. Also, when you’re from a place, you know it well. I’m not from a small Texas town originally but my dad now lives in one. No, they’re not all as dramatic, soap-opery, closed offish-y as Friday Night Lights, although we Texans do love our football. But I especially felt her characterization of the town was spot on. I have friends who live in small towns and let me tell you, when a new person who doesn’t “fit in” comes to town, everyone knows. Texas also has a lot of military bases thus a lot of people who have served in the military so yeah, there’s a lot of hate in some communities against anyone who people think are Middle Eastern. It’s unfortunate but true, and I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from that part of the story.
Congratulations again, Beth on a wonderful story. I hope all of you go out and buy the book today and support Beth. I expect many more great things from her in the future.
**This is a 100% honest review, I received the book from the author, Beth Fred, to read and review.**