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An Infidel in Paradise Hardcover – February 12, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Sixteen-year-old Emma, daughter of a Canadian diplomat, has moved from country to country all her life, but after her parents' rancorous divorce, she is forced to move from the Philippines to a diplomatic compound in Islamabad, where her mother has been posted. Emma resents the numerous restrictions, the loss of her friends, and the dullness of life in Pakistan, and is angry about her father's desertion and her mother's constant work-related absences. She alienates other students on the first day at her new school when she gives an honest answer to the question, "How are you enjoying Pakistan?" but she eventually makes some tentative friendships and tries to address some of the poverty-related issues around her. However, political tensions and her own ill-advised attraction to a handsome Pakistani classmate lead to trouble, and on one horrifying night, Emma is trapped outside the diplomatic enclave in the middle of a riot. She is attacked and nearly raped before being rescued by Pakistani soldiers. However, the novel ends on a hopeful note with Emma reaching out to her family and new friends. This is an honest and realistic story about being an outsider in another country (much of it is based on the author's own experiences). Emma could have easily come off as whiny and unsympathetic, but the author shows that she has legitimate reasons for her grief and pain. Laidlaw does not hold back from depicting some of the less-attractive aspects of Pakistani life, but she also conveys a sense of the beauty and wonder of this culture.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

Winner – IODE Violet Downey Book Award
Nominated – Snow Willow Award
Selected – OLA’s Best Bets List for Kids and Teens
Selected – VOYA’s Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers

“Laidlaw, a globetrotting social worker, puts her firsthand knowledge of faraway lands and cultures to good use in this exciting tale of a Canadian teen’s encounters with some of the best and worst features of a radically different society. Emma’s first-person, present-tense narration is realistic and compelling”
VOYA Magazine
 
“This is an honest and realistic story about being an outsider in another country (much of it is based on the author's own experiences)…. Laidlaw does not hold back from depicting some of the less-attractive aspects of Pakistani life, but she also conveys a sense of the beauty and wonder of this culture.”
School Library Journal
 
An Infidel in Paradise is a very well-written evocation of both a tormented teen and the exotic setting she finds herself in … teen readers will relate to Emma’s struggles and learn much from this excellent portrayal of culture clash.”
Quill and Quire
 
“Laidlaw has created a rich and layered text. Readers see Emma and her world through multiple lenses: teenager, diplomat, Canadian. Her descriptions of both the very rich and the very poor communities of Islamabad are carefully and respectfully drawn. Seeing this world through the eyes of a teenager gives the reader the opportunity to explore the differences in a very engaging way…. Highly recommended”
CM Magazine
 
“S.J. Laidlaw could have imbued An Infidel in Paradise with the same resentment that is implied in the scathing indictment of ‘Infidel!’ leveled against Emma but she does not.  Instead, she plays with the idea that the safety of ‘inside,’ whether it be the compound, one's comfort zone or culture, and the danger of ‘outside’ is not always the case. It has more to do with perception and broaching that transition with caution in an effort to make both territories manageable. Even Emma is able to find herself accepting her new life as An Infidel in Paradise.
—CanLit for Little Canadians

 
". . . I hope every teen reads this book, and that everyone who knows a teen reads it. An Infidel in Paradise was a pleasure to read (even if it did make me cry more than once), and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more work by S.J. Laidlaw."
–About.com 

“…Laidlaw, a globetrotting social worker, puts her firsthand knowledge of faraway lands and cultures to good use in this exciting tale of a Canadian teen’s encounters with some of the best and worst features of a radically different society. Emma’s first-person, present-tense narration is realistic and compelling, providing entertaining contrasts between her thoughts and her actions.”
— VOYA
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770493042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770493049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,033,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For many reasons, I’m excited to tell you about Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw. With one exception, whenever I smugly thought I knew the direction of the plot, Laidlaw surprised me with a different but believable twist. She also thankfully provided a likable main character, something that my most recent reads have failed to do. Because the impact of divorce and romance on teens is realistically captured, Infidel in Paradise serves as an universal story. At the same time, in authentically depicting the isolation that many third-culture young people feel, Infidel in Paradise is also an excellent multicultural novel.

On the surface, Infidel in Paradise is a cliché story about a new girl in a new place. What makes it unique however is twofold. First, there is the setting. Emma’s birth home was Canada, her most recent home was the Philippines, and now her new home is Pakistan. Second, there is the reason for the move. Emma’s family are diplomats, who are constantly on the move. This latest move however was inspired by her father’s divorce. On the surface, Infidel in Paradise is also a cliché story of new girl falling for the hot guy. Or vice-versa. What makes it unique is again twofold. First, there is the fact that Emma is a Christian and the hot guy is a Muslim. These religious differences alone create a lot of cultural conflicts. One huge example is the dress expectations. Second, there is the fact that hot guy is part of an arranged marriage. I admire how Laidlaw realistically depicts the struggle that he feels. Hot guy is at once infatuated with Emma, but also deeply fond of his girlfriend, and wants to do the right thing.

As I read Infidel in Paradise, I kept thinking about what it takes to create a likable character.
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Format: Hardcover
When Emma's parents split up, she moves with her mom and siblings to Pakistan. Not only is she working through her feelings about their separation, but she is having a hard time adjusting to the new culture. With the local population on edge, Emma finds herself in the middle of a riot and is forced to maneuver through the dangerous city.

I thought this was a very well written book. It was engaging, interesting and the characters were fascinating. Emma showed emotional growth throughout the book. My only complaint is that I wanted to read more! I hope the author writes more about these characters. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Imagine what it would be like to be yanked away from all the things that you are familiar with and comfortable with, and having to start fresh at a new place. This is bad enough as a teen moving from one town to another. Now picture all that and instead of a new town, you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, you aren't familiar with the culture, and its natives hate you purely because you are a westerner: white, blonde, and blue-eyed. This is what Emma facing and she's not happy about it either.

With a mom who is a workaholic and a dad who is living back from where Emma is from with the young ex-maid of theirs, Emma feels lost, unloved, resentful, and angry. At the new international school, Emma befriends an American girl, Angie, who helps lighten the angst a little only to lose her quickly adding anew to the bitterness and anger towards everything, but mostly towards her parents for messing up her life.

To add another straw to the camel's back, the boy Emma falls for (and he with her) is one she cannot have, they cannot be together. The racial and cultural and religious differences simply will not let that happen. Poor Emma is feeling sorry for herself with all of this, but the saving grace comes from the most unlikely source, her "enemy" aka "The Ice Princess", the boy's girlfriend and fiance. What? Fiance? Girlfriend? Yeah. Arranged marriage. There is nothing that can be done; it is an arranged marriage by both sets of parents and its part of that culture.

However, through that 'saving grace' in the form of charitable work, Emma finds focus and meaning in the sea of mess and misery. In the midst, she not only finds solace but comes to understand a great many things, albeit unintentionally.
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Format: Hardcover
What a beautifully written book that portrays fully the difficulties of being an outsider in a different culture. I love stories like this and it is clear that the author's personal experiences as the descriptions are compelling and touching and extremely well done. This is a wonderful book and I hope more people pick up this little gem for an inside look into another world.
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By Andrea on August 10, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Intriguing story with a strong female character. So interesting reading about Emma's life in Pakistan!
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