Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif
Publication Date: 8 July 2011 by Flux Books
ISBN 10/13: 0738723231 | 9780738723235
Keywords: Ramadan, Muslim, blending cultures, religion
Almira Abdul is trying her best to honor Ramadan, an entire month where she is not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset. While her family is not overly religious, and she has only been to a mosque twice, she feels that it's a good challenge for her... She thinks she can stand to lose a couple pounds.
What happens though is more than just food temptation! Her crush, Peter, starts noticing her at the same time her best friend starts noticing him! And while her traditional grandfather is teaching her to drive, he's also showing her how things would be if they weren't living in America.
Almira is a hilarious character. Her voice is unique and her inner dialogue charming. A few times I laughed out loud to the reference to her love of chocolate or her great infatuation of Rob Pattinson (and therefore her hatred of Kristen Stewart.)
Pop references aside, this is no light book. Almira is suffering from what many minority teenagers have difficulty with--how to blend in with the American culture while still holding onto her family's beliefs. It's not just about Ramadan. Her grandfather is a strong and aggressive character, representing the old ways. Her mother and father are somewhere in between.
Almira's friends are a diverse bunch of characters. Each has their own distinct personality and culture too. The conversations between Almira and her friends over AIM are hilarious. And let's not even get started on the new bomb shell of a girl that just started their school...
Sharif does a fantastic job navigating these touchy waters. Almira's voice is touching, desperate and loving. She is torn, observant and just doing the best she can. When there's drama at the end of the novel, Almira's sadness and panic came through brilliantly. This really feels like a high school teenager's account of her one month during Ramadan.
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know what to expect from the back synopsis, but it's an adventure I'm glad I didn't miss. Kudos to Sharif whose story made me sit down in a quiet corner, with no distractions, and quietly ate up Almira's journey. To be honest, I wouldn't have normally picked this book up, let alone read it! (Or seek it out for that matter. I went to three Borders and two Barnes and Nobles with no luck. I had to buy it on amazon.) But it's well worth it!
Visit the author online at http://www.sharifwrites.com and follow her on Twitter @sharifwrites. You can purchase the book directly from the publisher at http://www.fluxnow.com along with some of Alethea's other favorites. Kimberly read this for the Diversify Your Reading Challenge. Find out more at http://www.diversityinya.com/challenge.