We’re in This Together: A Young Readers Edition of We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders by Linda Sarsour. Salaam Reads, 2022. 9781534439290
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Sarsour reprises her 2020 memoir for teen readers. She tells the immigrant success story of her Palestinian family’s neighborhood bodega in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and of her burgeoning social political awareness after a childhood trip to Palestine. Sarsour is unapologetically Muslim, which was tested by the anti-Muslim fervor of many Americans after 9/11. Her activism began then as a way to help her community, and grew to encompass many other marginalized groups. The book culminates with the 2017 Women’s March in Washington DC, which Sarsour helped to organize. Excerpts from her speech are really stirring, and show what can be accomplished by galvanizing different groups to work together. She spoke to the millions of people who marched around the world that day as a Muslim American, a woman, and part of a coalition of Native American, African American, Latinx, Chicana, LGBTQ+ and other immigrant groups.
Like We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, she uses her personal history as a jumping off point to looking at the stratification of America, its police violence and prejudice. Sarsour shows that you can be devoutly religious but still fight like hell for what you believe is right, and you can be saucy about it! The arresting cover image of a women in a hijab with a hand raised in a power salute is a nice indicator of the memoir’s tone. I think this book will be especially interesting to young activists who care about their religion and actively working to make their world a fairer place.
The young readers edition has a section on important protests that have shaped America and a glossary of Islamic and Arabic terms. Plentiful endnotes provide sources for historical facts.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The adult readers edition has a few small snapshots of Sarsour’s family on the back cover – I think photos would have added appeal to this edition.
To whom would you recommend this book? Although this edition targets middle grade readers, I think it’s more likely to appeal to teens. Hand it to those who like reading about social action.
Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: February 15, 2023
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