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In the Name of God
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About the Author

Paula Jolin spent most of the last decade living and working in the Middle East. She has a masters degree in Islamic Studies and has written a number of non-fiction articles about Islam and the Arab world that have appeared in national children's magazines, including Calliope and New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams. She is also a reviewer for BookReporter.com and TeenReads.com.

Reviews

Jolin's powerful and timely first novel transports readers to present-day Syria and explores how the hatred that young people feel towards Americans seems to fuel their willingness to become suicide bombers. Nadia, a respectable hijabi girl, lives in Damascus, where she fasts, prays, reads the Qur'an and covers her head. She is disgusted with her cousins' acceptance of Western culture ("Once again, Western values were intruding into my world and I was powerless to stop them"). Like her cousin Fowzi, Nadia believes that America's support of Israel and their fight against terrorism is contributing to the unstable conditions in Syria. Many young people, unable to find professional jobs, must seek work elsewhere, either in Emirates or the United States ("enemy number 2," behind Israel). Fowzi tells them, "How can you be responsible to the Muslims when you live in a state that's attacking them?" After Fowzi is arrested, Nadia feels compelled to fight against the American influences that resulted in his arrest, and agrees to be a suicide bomber. Readers will see that underneath Nadia's extremist idealism there is also a young woman with a romantic notion of saving her country, who doesn't fully realize the overwhelming consequences her actions will have on her family until it is almost too late. Though at times readers may feel they are being taught, this informative novel will get them thinking about another point of view. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Gr 8 Up-In this believable depiction of the growth of religious zealotry, 17-year-old Nadia describes the period after her cousin's arrest by the Syrian secret police. Already committed to Islam, she moves toward fanaticism, actually seeking out an attractive man whom she hopes will help her to learn more about the revolutionary cause. Moderates in her family attempt to counter her extremism; this is not the kind of flirtation her mother expected of a teenage daughter, and the mother's quiet example of a different Muslim way is the most appealing part of this unsettling picture. Nadia's internal and external arguments provide a stark vision of how others see the U.S. Jolin effectively works in every negative impression, real or perceived, about America and its foreign policy. Beyond the usual stereotypes of American commercialism, there are comments on 9/11 and the war in Iraq, quotations from George Bush, and allegations of worldwide Jewish conspiracies. American readers may find that Nadia's change from an ambitious student to a suicide bomber comes a bit too quickly. But the author's Islamic studies and long residence in the Middle East help make this a convincing picture of life in present-day Damascus, and the suspense will keep readers engaged.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"The taut, suspenseful plot builds to a riveting climax. . . . Jolin does more than put a face on Middle East teens; she breathes life into each of her well-drawn characters and their complicated world. Nadia's story reminds us that some truths are best expressed by fiction." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review". . . a groundbreaking story . . . Writing with compassion and sensitivity, Jolin shows the volatile mix of vulnerabilities, passions, anger, fear, yearning and devotion that pulls Nadia toward her shocking choices, which culminate in a heart-stopping ending. . . . an essential starting place for teens to examine their own views about Western culture, the Middle East, the division of church and state, terrorism, and how fear and hate, faith and love affect everything." --Booklist, Boxed Review". . . a convincing picture of life in present-day Damascus, and the suspense will keep readers engaged." --School Library Journal"Jolin's powerful and timely first novel transports readers to present-day Syria and explores how the hatred that young people feel towards Americans seem to fuel their willingness to become suicide bombers." --Publishers Weekly

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