I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan was a pleasant surprise!
I love books that let me inside another person’s life and culture, and I am Thunder met the bill! This book welcomes the reader into a Muslim and Pakistani lifestyle which is something totally new to me. I’ve seen the headlines, I’ve had classmates, but I’ve never been able to learn this much about a culture in one sitting. While this book is only ONE view in a Young Adult (and slightly dramatic) book, it was still truly intriguing. Hats off to Muhammad Khan, seriously.
This book does cause some waves in the reading community though – I’ve seen lots of praises and lots of criticism. So, I’ll just share my thoughts.
I like that this book follows one young woman’s story. Yes, it’s like a soap opera and slightly dramatic at times but isn’t all YA? Muzna’s story gives some fabulous insight into her culture (for example, the difference between a religion and the actual practices someone follows). Her family life, her thoughts, her trouble deciding what to do with her life and the effect it has on everyone felt very REAL. It felt like I was reading a book made for and by a teen – she wants to meet boys, she wants to impress people, she wants to try to have a life but do what’s best for her family too. I could totally relate to her in that aspect. She struggles with being a teenage girl trying to just BE a teenage girl.
Are there parts of this book that were rough and tough? Yes. I don’t fully know what this woman’s culture would be in an accurate depiction, so maybe this is all my views as a reader. Buuuut… her parents are HARSH. It seemed like no matter what this girl did that they weren’t proud of her. It’s no wonder that Muzna “acted out” because there was no way she’d ever please those parents. It was borderline abusive. I don’t think it was a culture thing… honestly, I’m certain it’s not supposed to be a reflection of their culture. Those parents were borderline abusive if not actually abusive. Like, show a little familial love? Or at least, don’t be cruel at all times of the day?
Extreme religion was also apart of this book, so let there be a trigger warning for those who might be bothered by this topic. I found it interesting to read, but at times it felt like everyone were quite extreme with their religious practices. I know there’s only so many pages in a book, but there could have been some “softer” practices or realistic ones. I know many lovely people who study and follow various religions who aren’t as “crazy” or as extreme as some of these characters.
If I had to list the good things about this book, they’d be the following:
1. This book showcases a different religion and a different point of view in a largely read genre. I like that YA has diverse books like this one floating around so readers can learn more about the world. Difficult topics like religion and politics should be brought into books (especially YA) so more people can learn and experience the world.
2. Muzna felt like a real character with real struggles. She didn’t feel out of place or goofy. She made me really feel for her story and want to know more about her.
3. This book can start wonderful discussions. It’s the type of book I wish we read back in high school. I could have picked apart this book and had some really great discussions with my classmates and teachers. Just think of a diverse class discussing their points of views on topics like these! Oh, it’d be an interesting time!
Overall, this book is a really well written book! Muhammad Khan has written a beautiful story that will introduce you to Muzna’s world.
Three out of five stars.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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