Here to Stay
by Farizan, Sara

When a cyberbully sends the entire high school a picture of basketball hero Bijan Majidi, photo-shopped to look like a terrorist, the school administration promises to find and punish the culprit, but Bijan just wants to pretend the incident never happened and move on.

Sara Farizan is an Iranian American writer and ardent basketball fan who was born in and lives near Boston. The award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, she has an MFA from Lesley University and a BA in film and media studies from American University. Here to Stay is her third novel.

Bijan Majidi is surprised when he gets called off the bench and scores the winning points in his varsity basketball game. For this studious, goofy teen who loves reading comic books, hanging out with his best friend, and harboring a crush on Elle, this new attention comes with some popularity perks. But not for long. A photoshopped picture of him cast as a terrorist goes viral and unleashes a flurry of responses from students, parents, and teachers. Several other plots converge with this one, but Farizan (If You Could Be Mine, 2013; Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, 2014) manages to integrate them all smoothly. Islamophobia, racism, hetero- and homosexuality, toxic masculinity, offensive sports mascots, activism, friendship, immigration, school politics, gun rights, and a splash of Iranian history make this about a lot more than high-school sports. With the help of his friends, Bijan navigates this craziness with credibility, learning to refocus his own judgmental lens along the way. Grades 8-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Bijan is a varsity athlete at a Boston-area prep school whose otherwise ordinary life gets disrupted when a cyberbully torments him because of his Iranian-Jordanian heritage. Bijan's status as rising star of the basketball team wins him an accolade in the high school paper, new friendships on the team, and, most importantly, attention from girls. It also produces envy and resentment: He wakes up one day to a schoolwide e-mail depicting him as a terrorist. At the heart of the plot is Bijan's handling of his own emotions: a ferocious motivation to get to the bottom of the story and uncover the mysterious sender, offset by the impossible task of proceeding with his life-and the important upcoming games-as if nothing has happened. The teachers and school leadership are supportive, as is Bijan's diverse circle of friends (including a black teammate who sympathizes with the shared experience of racism) and his unconditionally loving single mom. Yet the damage is done, a nd Bijan slowly discovers that not everyone is outraged; worse yet, some might even agree with the unknown cyberbully who strikes again, in a homophobic attack. Fed up, Bijan and his friends launch their own investigation. The novel effortlessly tackles several important societal issues, keeping them in the foreground without detracting from the main focus: Bijan's entertaining internal color commentary that reveals his thought processes. The result is an engaging page-turner. Powerful. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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