STORYLINE: Almira Abdul has something to prove to both her family and herself; she can fast successfully during Ramadan. Her first crush proves to be problematic as she has competition from both friend and seeming enemy. Almira must stand strong through constant hunger, the strictures that come from being Muslim, and a struggle to maintain a friendship that means the world to her.
Almira: A spunky, determined American Muslim girl who faces several challenges, including that of cultural practices, self-image and romance.
Grandpa: epitomizes fundamentalism in its worst form. He’s quite a character, who believes in sticking to tradition and has the habit of yelling ‘Prostitute!” at any woman who’s not dressed to his standards or who behaves contrary to his standards. Though insufferable, Grandpa provided me with immense entertainment at times.
I LIKED: Almira’s voice. She makes funny observations from the get-go, including her reference to Arabic as a ‘foreign language’. The story flowed for me because I found her to be funny, natural and realistic in all the angst she goes through over her love life and physical attributes.
I admired her determination to succeed at the goal she set herself despite several attempts to sabotage her efforts. Though she struggles with her conscience, Almira is mature enough to realize that some things are better left unsaid, particularly in the context of familial expectations.
I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT: Grandpa’s extreme approach to dealing with women, however, the book would not have been the same without his character being written as is.
COVER NOTE: I think the cover captures all the main elements that Sharif writes about in Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.
OVERALL COMMENTS: Several themes are explored in Bestest. Ramadan. Ever., which makes it a good read for teens. These include friendship, tolerance, isolation that comes from being misunderstood, and self-acceptance. The lessons learned are obvious, but do not come across as preachy, which marks Medeia Sharif as a sensitive writer who handles her chosen subjects well.
SOURCE: I purchased Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. on Amazon.