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A Good Country Hardcover – May 23, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Rez Courdee, 14, is an excellent student who lives in Laguna Beach, CA, with his quiet, unreligious, but traditional Iranian parents. He breaks away from his image as an academic overachiever, trying pot and hooking up with girls. Surfer friends introduce Rez to the quest for the best waves, so he joins them for a trip to Mexico, which goes terribly wrong. The boys make it home, but they blame Rez for the trouble they get into. Lonely after his friends drop him, Rez is drawn to Fatima, who takes him to her mosque, and after a terrorist attack, he connects with others at school who, like him, have been scapegoated because of their religious background. He looks online for information about Islam, the religion of his ancestors, and is seduced by speeches calling for a new life in the new caliphate. A friend who has already left for Syria convinces Rez and Fatima to join him. Instead of taking the train to college, he and Fatima fool their families and fly to Syria, where they plan to marry. The story unfolds deftly, beautifully capturing the psychology of an American teen who goes down the path of radicalization; readers will understand what would motivate a sheltered, shortsighted young person to run away to join extremists. VERDICT Give this expertly written and stirring exploration of a timely subject to readers who enjoy novels that tackle global contemporary issues, such as Karan Mahajan's The Association of Small Bombs or Rabee Jaber's Confessions.—Karlan Sick, formerly at New York Public Library
"Powerful . . . Using vivid characters that bound off the page, dialogue that's millennial and local and deliberate to the last word, and settings that evoke American high school so well they send you digging for your CDs and party pics . . . Khadivi's book is meticulous, unsparingly realistic and rich in nuance, a careful accounting of all those small nothings that, over three formative years, add up to everything for Reza Courdee. It is the work of a documentarian, a . . . satisfying answer to the question of 'why?' As an Iranian-American writer and the child of a Muslim country, I want the world to read this book because of its naked, unflinching honesty." - New York Times Book Review
"An expertly crafted coming-of-age story about radicalisation and cultural integration . . . Khadivi places a series of clues in the narrative to indicate the struggle of migrant families to become American, and the contrasting anxieties between the generations with their potential for violent rupture . . . Khadivi skilfully inserts moments of reflection and discomfort into this episode of frantic assimilation . . . The narrative is tense and dramatic . . . The novel charts the journey to radicalisation and these final episodes bring it to a powerful climax. A Good Country is expertly shaped, and persuasively investigates an important phenomenon of our times." - Guardian
"Khadivi is a massive talent, lyrical, evocative, and unsparing . . . Khadivi's feat is a crucial one, especially at this moment in time, when young Muslim men are dehumanized by white Americans far more often than they are understood to be complicated, and individual, human beings. . . . You won't want the book to end. You will want to follow Rez. You will want to hear what happens next. A brilliant novel about a young man's reckoning with a flawed and violent world." - Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
"Engrossing . . . Khadivi's carefully crafted, masterful novel illustrates how the perfect storm of teenage cruelty, racism, and tragedy can create an extremist." - Starred Review, Booklist
"Brilliant . . . a tragic and affecting portrait of how radicalization can happen to an ordinary American, profoundly altering him . . . . A Good Country is a courageous and important conclusion to a magnificent trilogy. It suggests that what's saddest and most chilling about radicalization is that it arises from deep inside the human condition itself, from the thirst all humans have for connection and meaning. Without these, anyone can be lost." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Brilliantly channeling the minds of angst-filled teenagers with barely formed worldviews who seesaw between brash self-confidence and deflating insecurities, . . . Khadivi . . . has written an important, smart, timely novels that rivals such standouts as Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs or Moshin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist." - starred Review, Library Journal
"[T]he unerring precision of her prose draws you, piece by piece, into Rez's orbit and makes you concerned for his welfare once the skies darken." - The Herald
"A riveting, heartbreaking portrait of one young man's yearning for a good country to call his own." - Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
"Stunning and timely . . . Khadivi masterfully succeeds in pulling off a deep and searching investigation into Rez’s journey from one world to another, following through on her relentlessly emotional vision all the way to its wrenching conclusion. This is a heartbreaking coming-of-age story about the world we live in now." - Publishers Weekly
"The story unfolds deftly, beautifully capturing the psychology of an American teen who goes down the path of radicalization; readers will understand what would motivate a sheltered, shortsighted young person to run away to join extremists . . . Give this expertly written and stirring exploration of a timely subject to readers who enjoy novels that tackle global contemporary issues, such as Karan Mahajan's The Association of Small Bombs or Rabee Jaber's Confessions." - Starred Review, School Library Journal
"Captivating . . . In scene after vibrant scene, [Khadivi] suggests the forces that turn individuals into radicals. With A Good Country, she delivers an unusual and thought-provoking look at the process." - The Mercury News, "Books by the Bay"
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fall for recruiters lies on the internet about joining ISIS and the wonderful life they will have as fighters.