I am Thunder… and I Won’t Keep Quiet by Muhammad Khan

“A thought-provoking and empowering story which will encourage readers to question what they see and hear.”

One of the most confronting books I have read this year and a story that really hits the nail on the head. A new YA voice that demonstrates how far one can go to protect what they believe in and accurately depicts the world today. I really want to take this moment to thank the author, Muhammad Khan, for writing this story. As a Muslim woman reading this book – I felt this was a real eye-opener for non-Muslims and a warm hug to the Muslim brother/sisterhood as he stated in his author’s note.

“I am Thunder” is told by protagonist, 15 year old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a novelist but is trapped between 2 worlds: controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor and growing up in a world that tells you to be what you want to be. As Muzna’s father lost his job, Muzna is forced to move to a new school in South London at a critical time of her life and after her best friend is shamed in a scandal.

Whilst dialogue among teens can be cheesy, I found the book to be very well written and honest. It’s a book that will definitely spark positive discussion. I had such a personal connection to the story and the character but felt extremely thankful I didn’t experience absolutely everything Muzna went through.

When Muzna is thrown into this new school, just like the real world, she realizes bullies are everywhere and yes difficult times are ahead but do you take a stand and fight for what is right or do you fade out because it’s easier? Struggling with home life and school yard prejudice against her culture and faith, the world looks bleak for Muzna until she meets Arif – her knight in shining armour – or so she thinks…

The author did a fantastic job in demonstrating the constant confusion in families who put culture first, Islam second which is a leading cause of clash and confusion in families and the wider community. Cultural identity is a real challenge especially among the youth and I really felt for Muzna being an only child growing up in the western world with strong ties to her cultural traditions and expectations, it can be a challenge but it can also be an opportunity. I felt Muzna had the right idea of wanting to be a novelist as a means to set a passive example that demonstrates that these acts committed do not represent her or her faith.

In addition to cultural identity, the fury Muzna and her parents felt when waking up to headline news of terrorist attacks and murder of innocent victims carried out in the name of Islam was all too real for me. It was a wave of mixed emotions – anger for what this mob do in our name and the compounding weariness of stepping out of our house wearing the hijab, that need to constantly be vigilant in your own home in case you’re next to be on the receiving end of hate attacks for crimes you never committed or endorsed but refusing to live in fear. 

The story is so real – with strong characters making poor decisions or turning a blind eye to things you think is so obviously wrong, but that’s exactly why it was so real – because it demonstrates exactly how extremists operate. They select articulate, intelligent individuals and targe their vulnerability as leverage for their own agendas.

Again, this book is extremely well written and fast paced. I am sure readers will have an emotional reaction to the story. I gasped, cringed, laughed, cried and I even had to put the book down for a moment as I was getting so worked up over it (it’s so real). I feel this is an important story and I do recommend this as your next read. Suitable for the YA audience from ages 14 years and up.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of this book as part of the Summer Readings Blog Tour.
-Annie

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A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

We had the pleasure of meeting internationally renowned author Nadia Hashimi last Spring when she visited Australia!

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The Read3r’s Re-Vu group was very excited to hear about her bestselling novels and engaging in conversation about her journey, writing and how she finds time to write while working as a pediatrician and mother of four!

Nadia’s bestselling books include The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, A House Without Windows, When the Moon is Low and her Young Adult fiction, One Half from the East.

Among Nadia’s bestsellers, Read3rz blogger NJ read A House Without Windows. Check out her blog thoughts below.


“Time passes differently through a woman’s body. We are haunted by all the hours of yesterday and teased by a few moments of tomorrow. That is how we live – torn between what has already happened and what is yet to come.” – Nadia Hashimi, A House Without Windows

This book is more than just another story about Afganistan, it’s a story about women – women who helped each other in the most abysmal of circumstances, women who are resilient, intelligent, brave and powerful during times of struggle and fear, living in a strict society with little to no societal status and rights. A House Without Windows is an empowering read that tugs your heart strings. The story starts with Zeba’s husband, who was brutally murdered in their family home. Zeba was imprisoned for his murder despite the lack of witness and evidence. In order to defend her and save her from death row, Zeba’s lawyer Yusuf must find out what really happened. He must also navigate the convoluted, arbitrary methodologies of Afganistan’s legal system. After reading this novel, I must say that I’m still extremely shocked by the truth of the murder! What I really loved about this book is the interplay between themes of truth and morality, faith and law, honour and justice, society and family, magic and hope from the eyes of the characters. Reading these contrasting themes is like watching a riveting dance, it just makes you want to read on. I also loved the thoughtful writing and complex characters, from the powerful Gulnaz, a loving mother but bewitching trickster, to the Mullah with a hidden past; the characters are compelling and raw. I enjoyed reading about the prison sisterhood too, their stories made me feel so grateful to be living in a society where women have rights. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns or To Kill a Mocking Bird. This story is well written, thought-provoking and heartfelt, leaving the reader with much to think about after the last page.

– NJ

Be the Exception by Annie Meehan

“Gentleness is about knowing and naming the hurt in your soul, embracing it, and, in that same breath, removing the power it has over you.” – Annie Meehan

4 stars. Great for self reflection.

An authentic and empowering self-help read with useful and practical tips/exercises  to change life for the better. Annie Meehan (the author and motivational speaker) has written a perceptive and inspiring book on ways to put fear, anxiety and life’s traumas into perspective. She uses her own life experiences and trauma to convey a message of hope, faith and courage that enables the reader to feel empowered to live an exceptional life. Annie’s anecdotal accounts of her childhood and past traumas was shockingly sad and raw, I applaud her bravery and spirit in reconstructing her life, which is indeed exceptional. Recommended if you’re going through a tough time, over thinking issues, struggling with identity, relationships or simply after some tips to live a better life.

Other notable quotes:

“I was buried in sorrow not because of his absence, but because he had always been absent. I grieved for what wasn’t and what would never be.” – Annie Meehan

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anaïs Nin

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads.

-NJ