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Hollow Fires: 10/07/22
Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed (2022) is a YA novel about the fallout after a teacher accuses a Muslim student of bringing a bomb to school. The "bomb" was a DIY jetpack costume he made at school. His arrest brings out the worst in the community and results in his kidnapping and murder.
I realize the first paragraph reads like a giant spoiler. It isn't. The first page of the book outlines most of what I included there. Jawad Ali, the boy in question, narrates half the book as a ghost.
The other half of the book, the living half, is told from the point of view of Safiya Mirza, a Muslim high school girl who wants to be a journalist. She runs the school newspaper and wants to use it to highlight the racism she witnesses at school as well as to cover Jawad's arrest, suspension, and disappearance. We also know from the first chapter that she is the one who finds his body.
The majority of the novel is told out of order, flashing forward and back as the narrative tone needs. This isn't a mystery or a novel of suspense. Instead it's something to be felt and then ruminated over.