Wednesday, 3 October 2018

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan. Review by Jackie Marchant

Written by a British-Pakistani maths teacher from London, who has taken on board one of the most important ‘rules’ of writing – write what you know.  This book combines the angst of a teenaged girl who is desperate to fit in, while her parents want her to be a ‘good Pakistani girl’.  She loves English and wants to be a writer, while her parents are desperate for her to become a doctor and lead the family out of the poverty they find themselves in the UK.  Then there is the issue of being a British born Muslim . . .

Muzna’s parents not only refuse to practice Islam, but they forbid Muzna to do so as well.  So, when she starts wearing a hijab, there are rows.  But why has she decided to wear a hijab?  Is it because she wants to explore her religion, or is it because she’s fallen in love with Arif, who won’t respect her unless she does?

The more we learn about Arif, the more we realise that his beliefs are not necessarily motivated by all the good that comes from Islam – there is a lot of hatred there too.  As for his elder brother Jameel, who takes them both to ‘meetings’, his radical ideas start to cause Muzna more concern than her love for Arif can hide.  What is the truth?

As Muzna takes the slippery path towards fundamentalism, she has some tough decisions to make. 

As I said, this book has been written by someone who knows – not only about the dark side of racism, but the good side of those who oppose it, leaving Muzna to find solace in some unlikely places. But it’s also written by an author who cares – and that really comes across.

I am Thunder tackles the thorny issues of racism, extremism and Islamophobia head on.  It’s also a cracking read and fast-paced thriller – I expect we’ll be seeing more from this author.  Brave and heartfelt.


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