Saturday, August 26, 2017


Title: That Thing We Call a Heart
Author: Sheba Karim
Series: Standalone
Edition: Paperback
Publication: May 9th 2017 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC provided by the publisher
Pages: 288
Category: Contemporary

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman's explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a book I absolutely enjoyed. Here I was able to meet two amazing Muslim-American characters who have one thing in common: their friendship. Shabnam is the hopeless romantic in the duo while Farah is the rational and more adventurous one. What I adored in these two characters was the friendship dynamics we don't get to always see in books. How Shabnam felt excluded when Farah decided to wear a headscarf while Farah felt rejected by bestfriend because of her decision. I don't encounter these things all the time and it's amazing to feel enlighted about how other cultures value their traditions. Their friendship was bridged by their love for each other and I am so glad they made their differences work for them.

The book showcases a glimpse of how rich Pakistani culture is. One part of it is the Urdu Poems! They are so beautiful I kept reading the verses over and over. It isn't just romantic but the depth/technicalities of it are breathtaking. But it truly broke my heart when Shabnam made one but only to find out that the person didn't deserve it. Because damn, that was a knife in the heart. I was also starting to fall in love with Jamie in this story because his character was so well-intentioned at first. But sometimes, even being well-intentioned is just a facade.

The family dynamics also had me hooked. Shabnam's dad is the type who could care less (he's just really not that good in expressing himself) and the mother is the sentimental type and cares too much (which is what moms do). I hated how Shabnam treated her mother because Muslim or not, it was just an awful thing to scream at your mom. But she tried to make up for it and I am absolutely touched by how little things started changing for them at the end.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a story of discoveries you'll gladly follow along with. Enjoyable yet heartbreaking at times, this book knows it's ways to the heart.

Thank you so much, HarperCollins International Sales for the ARC!

"It's easy when you're climbing something. Don't look down, or even too far ahead. Focus on where you are in that moment."

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