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That Thing We Call a Heart
Cover of That Thing We Call a Heart
That Thing We Call a Heart
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This young adult novel by Sheba Karim, author of Skunk Girl, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story for fans of Jenny Han, Megan McCafferty, and Sara Farizan.

Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt's pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father's beloved Urdu poetry.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.

This young adult novel by Sheba Karim, author of Skunk Girl, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story for fans of Jenny Han, Megan McCafferty, and Sara Farizan.

Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt's pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father's beloved Urdu poetry.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.

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About the Author-
  • Sheba Karim is the author of Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, That Thing We Call a Heart, and Skunk Girl. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and NYU School of Law and currently lives in Nashville. You can visit her online at www.shebakarim.com.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2017
    It's the end of high school, and Shabnam Qureshi has lost her best friend and has no summer job, but the summer quickly becomes unforgettable when she finds herself falling in love.Pakistani-American Shabnam does many things wrong, including kissing an obnoxious white boy in a party game after he disses her best friend with a bigoted joke, being ashamed of her great-uncle for his religious/ethnic appearance, and lying about her great-uncle's experience during Partition--a lie that, in a satisfying twist of poetic justice, haunts her. Still, by the time she falls head over heels for Jamie, a white college student in town for the summer, readers can't help but feel protective of Shabnam. When she finds the guts to reconnect with her fascinating best friend, Farah, things really get interesting. In this relationship with another Pakistani-American girl, readers catch a glimpse of the diversity among Muslims. Shabnam is decidedly secular, at times sounding anti-religion, as when she tries to convince Farah not to wear the hijab. Farah, however, feels -too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims.- Even as Shabnam and Farah make this satisfying trek back to friendship, Shabnam learns to relate to her parents, exploring Urdu poetry and Sufism, two of her father's interests, which are likely to interest readers as well. Populated by complicated characters who are so well described readers will feel they might bump into them on the street, Karim's second novel delivers on its title's promise. (Fiction. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-The summer before college is a fraught one for Shabnam. Although she and Farah were once practically sisters, there's a distance between them now that Farah has chosen to wear hijab. Shabnam feels uncomfortable with the attention her friend's decision often attracts. Meanwhile, Shabnam falls hard for Jamie, navigates her relationship with her family, and, under her father's guidance, discovers the beauty of Urdu poetry. The story line is slight and the romantic plot predictable, but what sets this funny, dialogue-heavy read apart is its nuanced examination of identity. Beneath Shabnam's snide commentary about herself, her Pakistani and Muslim heritage, and her family lies genuine insecurity, which Karim teases out deftly. The protagonist's careless actions and blunt, sarcastic voice may put off some readers (for instance, she describes her great-uncle as being "a turban away from scary mullah"), but she is a relatable adolescent who is willing to grow and who eventually comes to gain a fuller appreciation of her culture. Many secondary characters are also well written. Karim has crafted a complex portrait of a young Muslim woman with Farah: though devoted to her religion, she is an outspoken feminist who smokes marijuana and attends punk rock concerts. Jamie, however, feels like more of a plot device than a well-developed character. Sexual situations, drug use, and profanity make this title appropriate for older audiences. VERDICT Fans of Sara Zarr and Jenny Han and readers of realistic fiction will enjoy this thoughtful, witty offering.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Populated by complicated characters who are so well described readers will feel they might bump into them on the street, Karim's second novel delivers on its title's promise."
  • School Library Journal "[W]hat sets this funny, dialogue-heavy read apart is its nuanced examination of identity... Fans of Sara Zarr and Jenny Han and readers of realistic fiction will enjoy this thoughtful, witty offering."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review) "This is a warm-hearted story that may encourage readers, like Shabnam, to find possibilities in greater human connections."
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