by Marina Budhos
Budhos, Marina. Ask Me No Questions. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. ISBN 9781416949206
This is a story about fourteen- year-old Nadira and her family who emigrated from Bangladesh. They are living in New York City and hoping to become legal U.S. citizens soon. Currently they are living in the states on expired visas. Their lives turn upside down after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In their attempt to cross the Canadian border, Nadira's father is arrested. It is now Nadira and her older sister, Aisha's job to carry on like normal without both their parents. When her sister falls apart, Nadira has to step up and be the strong one to bring her family back together.
This moving story consists of finding one's identity, patriotism, family, and what it meant to be Muslim in America after 9/11. Budhos' does an excellent in describing Nadira's feelings and emotions throughout the story. While readers will feel sympathy for the characters, the settings throughout the story could be more detailed. I couldn't really visualize the settings while reading. To me that was the only down fall of the book. In chapter five, Budhos makes the connection to the title, "Ask me no questions. Tell me no lies." This is the policy at the girl's school. At the end of the story there is an "Endnote" from the author. This is where Budhos describes the actual events that led to her inspiration for this work of fiction.
The culture of the characters in the story is apparent throughout. From names, food, and vocabulary readers can experience the Muslim American culture. Budhos does not provide a glossary, so readers may need to look up some words to know their meaning. Most of the non-English words are italicized Nadira never mentions her father's name but calls him Abba. One can assume that this name means father, but I had to look it up to find out for sure. In Arabic, Abba means father. Nadira's family is described as modern thinking Muslim Americans. Nadira, Aisha, and Ma do not wear scares on their heads.
I would definitely recommend this book for all middle school libraries and public libraries. Readers will gain insight and understanding into the struggles Muslims faced after the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
- "...this is an important facet of the American immigrant experience, worthy of wider attention." -School Library Journal
- "...the events of the novel are powerful enough to engage readers' attention and will make them pause to consider the effects of a legal practice that preys on prejudice and fear." -Publisher's Weekly
- "The teen voice is wonderfully immediate, revealing Nadira's mixed-up feelings as well as the diversity in her family and in the Muslim community." -Booklist
More books with similar stories and hardships.
- Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
- Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
- Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan by John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech with Michael S. Sweeney and K.M. Kostyal