Winner of the Literacy Association of Ireland Award for YA Fiction 2017.
Chosen for the IBBY Honour List 2018.
Tariq is not sure where he really belongs or where he would rather be. School brings tedium at best, taunts and threats at worst. At home he can’t seem to please his increasingly devout father or dispel his mother’s growing dislocation and her creeping distance from her husband. Tariq’s only solace is music, be it the classical pieces from class or the choubi songs passed on by his uncle Rahim. The only ally of his own age is Rachel, his Jewish classmate. She will not let Tariq’s Islamic Iraqi background define how she – or the wider community – sees him.
Shamed and sore from an embarrassing beating, Tariq forms a new friendship with the volatile but intriguing record-shop owner, Jamal, who helps Tariq discover the world of jazz. Amidst the dust and grooves of the vinyl, in the glow of Coltrane’s amber sound, Tariq senses, for the first time, the different possibilities that are his to decide and fashion.
But when the violence, long simmering in the atmosphere, finally erupts, Tariq is forced to navigate a delicate path between family, friends and faith. He takes the ultimate risk – for his friend and for his enemy equally – and the disparate worlds of modern America and traditional Islam come together in an unexpected and gripping resolution.
Peace and violence, faith and mistrust, thriller and literary fiction – this is a supreme story of a young man caught between two worlds.