Review: This Book Won’t Burn by Samira Ahmed

Posted May 11, 2024 by Richetta in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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Review: This Book Won't Burn by Samira Ahmed

I received this book for free from TBR & Beyond Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Review: This Book Won’t Burn by Samira AhmedThis Book Won't Burn by Samira Ahmed
on May 7, 2024
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Books & Libraries, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / New Experience, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Prejudice & Racism
Pages: 384
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Source: TBR & Beyond Tours
Buy on Bookshop

★ “[Ahmed] employs high stakes, increasing tensions, romantic near-misses, and adult hypocrisy to powerful effect.” Publisher's Weekly, starred review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Internment comes a timely and gripping social-suspense novel about book banning, activism, and standing up for what you believe. 

After her dad abruptly abandons her family and her mom moves them a million miles from their Chicago home, Noor Khan is forced to start the last quarter of her senior year at a new school, away from everything and everyone she knows and loves.

Reeling from being uprooted and deserted, Noor is certain the key to survival is to keep her head down and make it to graduation. 

But things aren’t so simple. At school, Noor discovers hundreds of books have been labeled “obscene” or “pornographic” and are being removed from the library in accordance with a new school board policy. Even worse, virtually all the banned books are by queer and BIPOC authors. 

Noor can’t sit back and do nothing, because that goes against everything she believes in, but challenging the status quo just might put a target on her back. Can she effect change by speaking up? Or will small-town politics—and small-town love—be her downfall? 

Also by this author: Hollow Fires

Welcome to my stop on the This Book Won’t Burn by Samira Ahmed tour hosted by @tbrbeyondtours.

Samira Ahmed’s books are an auto-read for me! We’ve entered a scary time in history (again) where book banning has become a prominent tool for ensuring ignorance and engaging in suppression. Ahmed’s latest book addresses one girl’s response to book banning in the town she has recently moved too. ⁠

A Shattered Family

Noor is not in a good place when her mother moves what remains of her family to Bayberry, Illinois. Her father has unexpectedly abandoned them after years of them being a happy, loving family. Relocation from Chicago is Noor’s mother’s way of giving her and her sister Amal a fresh start. But the trauma of the loss of their Dad is a heavy cloud. It makes it hard to trust as Noor makes new friends.

⁠Small- Town Politics

The shift from a super liberal and diverse environment to a small-town currently being run by Liberty Moms and Dads is too much for Noor to keep her head low and to keep quiet like her mom advises her. She only has a few months until graduation, but banning books is not something she can just stand by and watch.

I always find it interesting how the “outsider” is always better able to shake things up. But I believe it comes down to perspective. Noor as “the outsider” (both as a desi teen and as the new kid in town) has different perspective and experience of the meaning and value of student choice with reading books. Noor could have easily of made the choice to keep her head down. She doesn’t have to have an investment in this town that she will literally be leaving in a few months to go to college. ⁠

There is a lot to dive into with This Book Won’t Burn. It’s about family relationships, mental health, student activism, student voice, risk-taking for your rights, the freedom read, the freedom to be seen in what you read, and much more. There is also some romance, which also serves as a vehicle to discuss allyship.⁠

Ideas for the Classroom- Studying Language & Agenda

  • No spoilers, but there is also a great opportunity to look at the manipulation of language and how political language is leveraged to pursue certain agendas. Educators who read this with students could definitely have a conversation about how Noor speaks to the media and in public situations versus how Steve Hawley, the School Board president, does. I would definitely bring in the book 1984 by George Orwell too. 
  • Create a reading list of the banned books mentioned that were pulled from the high school library in the book. Then do some research behind where this has happened in real life. 
  • Start a dialogue about the risks and rewards of student activism.

About the Author:

samira ahmed bio pic

Samira Ahmed is the bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other FiltersInternmentMad, Bad & Dangerous to KnowHollow Fires, and the Amira & Hamza middle-grade duology, as well as a Ms. Marvel comic book mini-series.  Her poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including the New York TimesTake the MicColor Outside the LinesVampires Never Get Old and A Universe of Wishes.

She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns.

Tour Schedule:

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