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Mariam Sharma Hits the Road

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The summer after her freshman year in college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala and religious but closeted Umar. But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what better escape than New The summer after her freshman year in college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala and religious but closeted Umar. But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what better escape than New Orleans? The friends pile into Umar's car and start driving south, making all kinds of pit stops along the way--from a college drag party to a Muslim convention, from alarming encounters at roadside diners to honky-tonks and barbeque joints. Along with the adventures, the fun banter, and the gas station junk food, the friends have some hard questions to answer on the road. With her uncle's address in her pocket, Mariam hopes to learn the truth about her father (and to make sure she didn't inherit his talent for disappearing). But as each mile of the road trip brings them closer to their own truths, they know they can rely on each other, and laughter, to get them through.


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The summer after her freshman year in college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala and religious but closeted Umar. But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what better escape than New The summer after her freshman year in college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala and religious but closeted Umar. But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what better escape than New Orleans? The friends pile into Umar's car and start driving south, making all kinds of pit stops along the way--from a college drag party to a Muslim convention, from alarming encounters at roadside diners to honky-tonks and barbeque joints. Along with the adventures, the fun banter, and the gas station junk food, the friends have some hard questions to answer on the road. With her uncle's address in her pocket, Mariam hopes to learn the truth about her father (and to make sure she didn't inherit his talent for disappearing). But as each mile of the road trip brings them closer to their own truths, they know they can rely on each other, and laughter, to get them through.

30 review for Mariam Sharma Hits the Road

  1. 3 out of 5

    Cait • A Page with a View

    This is such a beautiful story on so many levels. It's a fun summer contemporary but the complex, lovable characters are what really made it stand out for me. Mariam goes on a road trip to New Orleans with her 2 friends to escape the scandal of one of them in an American Apparel-type underwear billboard in Times Square. The diverse life experiences of the 3 college students and their honest discussions about faith, family, racism, and trying to find your place in a screwed up world were so incre This is such a beautiful story on so many levels. It's a fun summer contemporary but the complex, lovable characters are what really made it stand out for me. Mariam goes on a road trip to New Orleans with her 2 friends to escape the scandal of one of them in an American Apparel-type underwear billboard in Times Square. The diverse life experiences of the 3 college students and their honest discussions about faith, family, racism, and trying to find your place in a screwed up world were so incredibly real. One of them is gay and very religious, but has a homophobic dad. Another is from a family who wants to lock her in her room and send her back to Pakistan. And then Mariam has a deadbeat dad who's Hindu, but she grew up estranged from most religion or culture. The friends face a lot of unpleasant situations in their road trip, yet also confront a lot about themselves. The plot highlights SO many important messages and calls things out in a caring way so that the end result is a really relatable, hopeful, life-affirming story. I loved this author's other book, That Thing We Call a Heart, and completely recommend both! Thank you to the publisher for sending me a finished copy.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Rushda

    I thought Sheba Karim would have to work really hard for me to dislike this book more than I disliked That Thing We Call a Heart but wow! She really put in her 110%! I am not going to declare to the world every label I ascribe to, but I fall in to many of the 'categories' this book tries to place people in - and 'Muslim' is one of them. And as one, THIS BOOK IS NOT POSITIVE MUSLIM REPRESENTATION! I would not say this book is not realistic or that the desi/Muslim community is "not like this". I thought Sheba Karim would have to work really hard for me to dislike this book more than I disliked That Thing We Call a Heart but wow! She really put in her 110%! I am not going to declare to the world every label I ascribe to, but I fall in to many of the 'categories' this book tries to place people in - and 'Muslim' is one of them. And as one, THIS BOOK IS NOT POSITIVE MUSLIM REPRESENTATION! I would not say this book is not realistic or that the desi/Muslim community is "not like this". The racism, sexism and homophobia in the community is unfortunately all too real and has a literal body count. It's important to address these issues in fiction and in real life but one of my biggest problems with this book is that it doesn't actually address these points at all. No solution or hope is offered. As a result, you're left with an ending that sort of comes across as "Desis and Muslims are backwards and intolerant." Apart from Umar, the gay male character in this book, there is not one practising Muslim who is portrayed as not racist, not homophobic or not sexist. All of the adults of importance in this book, apart from Mariam's atheist mother, are awful people. And YES people like them exist. I am ironically writing this review after coming home from an Eid party in which an (raised Muslim atheist) cousin told me that black people don't face discrimination and he is uncomfortable flying on planes with Muslim men with beards. I also told him he was embarrassing and his arguments are cringe worthy. I am not voiceless or powerless. I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to talk in that way, but I also know I don't need to give up my faith or community or run away from home to "make the change I want to see", as Mariam apparently believed in. Just as it is not unrealistic that there are deeply intolerant Muslims, it is also not unrealistic that there are very tolerant yet religious Muslims. Aside from all this, the only character I somewhat liked was Umar. I agreed with some of his interpretations of the Quran and his absolutely correct stance that you should use a lota (google it). I didn't really like Mariam or Ghazala at all and found the trio to be, overall, quite judgemental towards others while pointing fingers at others' prejudices. This book bothered me so much that I have to rant more about why I hated it but tldr: from what I have read of her work, Sheba Karim writes about girls who don't identify as Muslim and work their asses off to remind you of that. They are special and liberated and #NotLikeOtherMuslims. This book is for people who liked The Big Sick and thought it was a good movie. If you know...you know :) Spoilers below. TW homophobia, child sexual abuse, body shaming, racism, Islamophobia. (view spoiler)[ 1. THE REPRESENTATION AND JUDGEMENT OF PRACTISING MUSLIMS - Already spoken on this a little bit but the Muslim parents in this book consist of homophobes and child abusers. It is mentioned again and again that Umar's parents would never accept him if he came out. Ghazala's parents lock her in a room when an image of her from an underwear modelling photoshoot she did is used on a billboard in Times Square. Both these representations are "realistic", however they are generalised to the point of being harmful towards Pakistanis and Muslims in America and ultimately just perpetuate an existing stereotype of desi parents. A Muslim adult who is not homophobic, for example, is never offered as a balance. - The gang at one point spot a conservative Muslim family in the car next to theirs while on the road. The mother is wearing a niqab and the father has a beard and skull cap. The first assumption they make is that the family is Salafi (orthodox Sunni Muslim sect advocating a return to the early Islam of the Quran) which hello??? Not every niqabi or guy with a beard is a Salafi already off to a judgey start. And THEN THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW THIS FAMILY AND THEY START COMPARING THEM TO ISIS SYMPATHISERS??? I don't even have anything to say to this. Moving on. 2. LET'S NOT STOP AT THE MUSLIMS! LET'S JUDGE EVERYONE! - Fat shaming? Check! Ah, of course. They're fat because they're so unhealthy . Thank goodness Mariam earlier described how hot the three of them are, even mentioning she has a toned body from swimming! Would hate to think they were possibly a bit chubby. Hot and fat are mutually exclusive. Got it? - We're all feminists here so we all know it's not okay to shame women in booty shorts enjoying themselves...except when it is, of course. Let's drag their socioeconomic background too while we're at it! It's okay when they do it! - It's also not okay to be homophobic like those backwards Muslims...unless it's towards lesbians, of course. 'Maybe one of the girls is a wlw and was saying it in an empowering way?' you hope. No. 3. RACISM IS BAD...? - They go to a restaurant and Where Mariam overhears these white ladies behind her talking about (East) Asian women... Yikes! Sounds pretty racist! She's Asian so she's gotta love woks? Whack. But at least our trio don't stereotype in that way...oh wait. Yeah, and this is any better than the white ladies how exactly? - It's mentioned multiple times how the desi/Muslim community is very anti-black racist and I wholeheartedly agree. There's one part of the book where Mariam's uncle starts talking about how "black people commit crimes and lack work ethic" and I was literally in that situation today so I can't and won't say this is not accurate. But! Is there perhaps a Muslim character, apart from Umar, who is not racist? No, of course not! Is there a black character who actually speaks of the racism they have gone through, or acceptance they have experienced? HA HA how funny! They don't interact with a single black person in the whole book and why would they? What a strange suggestion! Okay, then do any of the characters ever give an example of when they have stood up against anti-black racism in the community? No but they are most definitely and unquestionably ~woke~. 4. MUSLIM ATTITUDES TOWARDS LGBTQ+ ISSUES The trio attend a national Islamic convention being held in New Orleans towards the end of the book. While there, they notice in the programme a panel discussion about LGBTQ issues in the Muslim community and decide to attend. Going into this part, my heart was beating so fast and I couldn't even feel my legs. I knew that this would be the make or break moment. Would Sheba Karim write a panel which was actually inclusive of LGBTQ+ Muslims and showed how much work they are doing to support non-heterosexual Muslim youth? Or would she have a panel of homophobic straight people denouncing homosexuality as a sin in Islam*? *Side note: At one point, Umar does explain that there is only one part of the Quran which supposedly condemns "homosexual acts" (the story of Lot) but that this has also been interpreted as a condemnation of male r*pe, not consensual sex. An interesting article about this interpretation, and its limitations regarding female sexuality, can be found here. When I have attended London Pride - with Zoha, a hijabi Muslim, and my friend K, a black Christian, aren't we the picture of diversity? - there has always been groups of LGBTQ+ Muslims being proud of their religion and their sexuality, making it clear it's not haram to be gay. Not to mention the parades were led the last two years by Sadiq Khan, the Muslim mayor of London who is the first mayor to lead Pride in London. Would the author recognise activists like the beautifully proud Muslim LGBTQ+ and their supporters? Like a fucking fool, I dared to hope. - Unfornately, Sheba took a huge dump on my dreams. I can at least hope she washed her ass afterwards as Umar would want. ...Of course. - This is followed by the speakers of the panel saying Islam says it is okay to be gay, but not to act on your "homosexual urges". That just because some people have a natural urge, it doesn't make it okay to act on it, like...pedophilia. Of course. Just OF COURSE he said this. - This was followed by the advice that if a female friend comes out to you as a lesbian, you should treat her as an "unrelated male", meaning you can't hug or touch her. And it is advised that you should try to "encourage her down the path of righteousness". - OBVIOUSLY the book didn't support these statements and the characters were appropriately shocked and disgusted by such appalling arguments. But the issue is, what good did this scene do? By including it in a book and demonstrating how "backwards and intolerant" these Muslims are, did Sheba Karim give any kind of hope to non-heterosexual Muslims? Did she use this opportunity to give a space for activists like I mentioned before? Or did she just rehash the same tired rhetoric that is used by people outside the community to justify their arguments for how all Muslims are homophobic? - At no point in the whole book does a non-straight Muslim person tell Umar who he is is not a sin. And, look, I have been to awful Muslim panels. At university, I attended a talk on women in the Islamic world led by a woman where the speaker talked for an hour about how the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) were good wives because they did stuff like cook for him. She never mentioned any Muslim business women or scholars etc. and failed to name even one woman she thinks is breaking barriers in the 21st century when asked. I never attended another talk held by that society again. I know the reality can be bleak and these events and talks can suck, but is that it? That's the only option we have in real life and that's the only representation we get in FICTION? I am thankful that I possess a functioning brain to not generalise and make assumptions and do my own research about Muslim women etc. I know one bad talk doesn't mean all takes on the topic are bad. But for so many non-Muslim, non-desi people, this will be the only representation they get and this is what the author thinks to put out into the world? And just like every other issue she brings up, she offers no positive alternatives or solutions to this problem that leaves the reader feeling hopeful. Reading this just made me feel to terribly ugly inside. For so many different reasons, my heart was aching and this part of the book is what brought it down from a 2 star read to 1 star. ANYTHING ELSE? - There is one extremely cheesy and awful part of the book where the trio go to a diner and are served by an incredibly friendly and lovely waitress though the other diners look "unhealthy" and potentially racist, especially a "scary" man in a camo baseball cap. Later, they see a truck in the parking lot with a "Guns don't kill people, Muslims do" bumper sticker. After some drama, they go back in the diner and - SHOCK - it actually belongs to the friendly waitress who didn't know they were Muslim. After a cringe-inducing interaction between them, they go back out to the parking lot where they are approached by the scary baseball cap guy who turns out to be - SHOCK AGAIN! - not racist! In fact, he was even in the army and everything and knows not all Muslims are terrorists! Thanks for the inclusion of this great rep for people who enlist to go kill other Muslims overseas but they're not really bad people...shame the same treatment wasn't given to, you know, the actual Muslims in this book. - To add even more bad representation into the mix of already awfully represented uncles, it is revealed that when Ghazala was 11, her paternal uncle came into her room at night and masturbated in front of her, feeding into the stereotypes that desi men are pedos and creeps. ANY POSITIVES? - Ghazala is urged to go see a therapist at the end which is not only what her character needs but also takes away stigma attached to therapy that is so prevalent in the desi/Muslim communities. - Umar really understood the importance of lotas. Heavily relate. (hide spoiler)] If you are a non-straight Muslim and looking for a book that has a hopeful portrayal of inclusion for you, don't read this book. If you're a Muslim woman who feels shamed for dressing "immodestly" and are looking for a book where your family and community are accepting, don't read this book. If you are Muslim and you want representations of Muslim families that are supportive of their children, don't read this book. If you are of mixed-religious heritage and want a book that shows interfaith marriages and parenting can work, don't read this book. If you're Muslim and are looking for characters who are practising and proud but not narrow-minded and prejudiced, don't read this book. If you're looking for a book which, like, actually has a point, don't read this book. Actually, let's just all move on and not read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aimal (Bookshelves & Paperbacks)

    Many thoughts. Too lazy to type them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura (bbliophile)

    I have quite a lot of complicated feelings towards this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cori Reed

    2.5 Stars I am so conflicted on this one. I started reading a manuscript of this many moons ago and liked what I read, so wanted to find and read a finished copy. There is a lot of commentary in this book that is very important, but I also recognize that there are some flaws. Overall, I enjoyed the plot and think more people should pick it up and form their own opinion!

  6. 3 out of 5

    Jen Ryland

    Who can resist a road trip book (not me!) This is a story about a group of Pakistani-American teens who hit the road, headed from New Jersey to New Orleans. One is hiding from the fallout after she's featured on a Times Square billboard, one is looking for her absentee father, and one is deciding when and whether to come out. Their friendship was great and their adventures were both touching and hilarious. Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In T Who can resist a road trip book (not me!) This is a story about a group of Pakistani-American teens who hit the road, headed from New Jersey to New Orleans. One is hiding from the fallout after she's featured on a Times Square billboard, one is looking for her absentee father, and one is deciding when and whether to come out. Their friendship was great and their adventures were both touching and hilarious. Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In Ten reviews on Youtube - get the lowdown on current books in 10-30 seconds! Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review!

  7. 3 out of 5

    Kelly

    The writing leaves something to be desired, as do some of the choices made in the story...but that is easy to let go of when you consider this is a YA book about three brown teens on a road trip from New Jersey to New Orleans. All three are seeking some kind of closure in their lives and find it on the road. They also dig into racism, both that directed toward them and that they direct outward. The exploration of sexuality is more shallow than I'd like to have seen, but given this is really Mari The writing leaves something to be desired, as do some of the choices made in the story...but that is easy to let go of when you consider this is a YA book about three brown teens on a road trip from New Jersey to New Orleans. All three are seeking some kind of closure in their lives and find it on the road. They also dig into racism, both that directed toward them and that they direct outward. The exploration of sexuality is more shallow than I'd like to have seen, but given this is really Mariam's story and not Umar's, it makes sense. Fun, with older teens (out of their freshman year of college), and with a good look at life as brown/Pakistani- and Muslim- American kids struggling with everyday things like family, religion, sexuality, and figuring out what it is they want in their lives.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Haadiya // Hiatus

    this doesnt sound good but hello its pakistani and im here

  9. 4 out of 5

    m.a.

    i was very excited for this but it was underwhelming and uncomfortable at some parts especially when it came to omar's sexuality...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight I assumed I would love this one, based on the fact that I will never, ever turn down reading a road trip book. Especially when best friends come together to help one of their other friends, so this one sold me from the synopsis. Unfortunately, it didn't end up being as epic as I'd hoped. But alas, there were some definite high points, so let's start with those! The Good: It deals with a You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight I assumed I would love this one, based on the fact that I will never, ever turn down reading a road trip book. Especially when best friends come together to help one of their other friends, so this one sold me from the synopsis. Unfortunately, it didn't end up being as epic as I'd hoped. But alas, there were some definite high points, so let's start with those! The Good: It deals with a ton of really important real-life issues, especially in our current climate. The characters face some pretty severe hate in certain parts of the country. These scenes were painful to read, but obviously incredibly important, too. Especially some of the more subtle instances. For example, they meet a woman who seems nice and understanding, but has a terribly racist bumper sticker. And of course, she thinks she's totally justified in her thoughts (which she isn't of course, but no one is going to convince her). The characters have to navigate these awful situations that frankly, no one should have to deal with. The closeness of the characters was really awesome. They had very solid friendships, and this was evident by the fact that they'd drop everything for a pal in need. I also really liked Mariam's relationship with her mother, as it was one of the healthier parent relationships that was shown in the book. The Not-So-Good: The Muslim hate. Okay- I am not a member of this community, and I don't want to step on toes of course. This is all from my (outsider) perspective, but I feel like it is still worth mentioning. The characters are quite disparaging in regards to more conservative and more religious Muslims. And that seems... really not great. Like it was hard for me to read at times, because I was so wildly uncomfortable with all the hateful remarks about members of the Muslim community. I mean, don't get me wrong, of course there are members of any community who do the things the characters spoke about, but that is true of all human beings. To make these jabs about Muslim people seems incredibly irresponsible- especially because they're never addressed or corrected in any way. Again- outside my lane, but very uncomfortable with the disdain toward any group. ANYWAY, my friend Rashika complied an awesome list of books by Muslim-identifying authors that you should check out! The other random hate in general. I mean- obviously none of us is perfect, and I won't pretend to have never been a little judgey in my life. The thing is, it crossed a line for me. I felt like they just wanted to snark on everyone, and that made me sad. And again, there is no growth, no point where everyone is like "wait, no one is perfect, maybe we should spend less time judging all the people's actions and focus on the internal!" or something. It's just... what they did. I honestly just didn't feel a ton for the characters. Like, they were okay I guess, but they really weren't very fleshed out. They seemed a little.. blah, for lack of a better word. I never felt like I really knew Mariam, which was a bummer, considering she's the MC. I don't even fully understand what the point of the book was overall? I mean, a road trip, some discovery about family stuff, and about self (I guess) but I just never felt particularly riveted by the actual plot of the book.  Bottom Line: Great in theory, less so in execution. I could have overlooked some of the other flaws, but the straight up vitriol directed toward Muslims pushed me over the edge into Nope Territory.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    “You’re thinking about it the wrong way. Maybe you don’t have to fit in with them, maybe you have to make space for yourself.” I just wanted to love this so much and ended up not really liking it much and I feel kinda sad about it. Miriam Sharma Hits the Road follows Miriam and her two closest friends, Umar and Ghaz, as they roadtrip to New Orleans and discover more about themselves in the process. Things I Liked I really loved the focus on friendship in the story, and it’s what drew me to th “You’re thinking about it the wrong way. Maybe you don’t have to fit in with them, maybe you have to make space for yourself.” I just wanted to love this so much and ended up not really liking it much and I feel kinda sad about it. Miriam Sharma Hits the Road follows Miriam and her two closest friends, Umar and Ghaz, as they roadtrip to New Orleans and discover more about themselves in the process. Things I Liked I really loved the focus on friendship in the story, and it’s what drew me to the book in the first place. Miriam, Umar, and Ghaz have a very close knit group and they love and support each other through it all. I feel like all road trip books were made to be read in the summer and are always just fun, quick books to read that have adventure, laughs, drama. Things I Didn’t Like I didn’t connect, or even really like the characters They were all just so judgey, and not liking the characters is kinda detrimental to this type of story. I tend to judge contemporary characters on if I’d want to hang out with/be friends with them and honestly, I think hanging out with Miriam + crew would be exhausting. The ending was super abrupt and didn’t really feel complete to me. It mostly felt like the story just stopped, nothing was resolved. Though I was disappointed by Miriam Sharma Hits the Road and didn’t connect with the characters it is a book I think that other people will enjoy. It’s just one that didn’t connect with me. I received a copy of the book from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    I really enjoyed this friendship/roadtrip story. Underage drinking, pot brownies, and descriptions of sex, so I’d say meant for HS readers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abeer Hoque

    Mariam Sharma Hits The Road is Sheba Karim’s third YA novel, as witty, charming, and fun loving as her first two but with a sharp political bent that distinguishes it from her earlier fiction. Three South Asian American teenagers go on a road trip from New Jersey to New Orleans, each of them struggling with their own personal demons along the way. Their encounters throughout the South, ranging from poignant to hilarious to ominous, transform their perspectives as well as their relationships with Mariam Sharma Hits The Road is Sheba Karim’s third YA novel, as witty, charming, and fun loving as her first two but with a sharp political bent that distinguishes it from her earlier fiction. Three South Asian American teenagers go on a road trip from New Jersey to New Orleans, each of them struggling with their own personal demons along the way. Their encounters throughout the South, ranging from poignant to hilarious to ominous, transform their perspectives as well as their relationships with each other. Mariam is the title character, a serious and thoughtful college age teenager who was raised by a progressive no-nonsense single mother. She knows practically nothing about her father who abandoned their family, and a recent romantic breakup spurs her to find him. Ghaz is the beauty of the group, and a vibrant sassy flirt. An underwear modeling stint has earned her the wrath of her conservative emotionally abusive parents, and she escapes house arrest to join the trip. Umar is perhaps the most (the only?) devout believer among them, a stylish snarky gay boy who is afraid to come out, fearing the backlash from his well-regarded family and their community. His car is their ticket out, and a huge Muslim convention in New Orleans provides his reason for taking off. Karim takes on Islamophobia, racism, and homophobia directly and indirectly throughout the story, in many of the little and large ways that these historical, institutional, and personal prejudices affect our lives. One hard-hitting scene takes place in a Tennessee diner off a highway. No spoilers, but it’s marvelous because of how subtle, real, and surprising the events are. Another amazing (heart in mouth) scene plays out in a raucous honkytonk karaoke club in Nashville. I was charmed by but also sometimes disbelieving of how loving and supportive the 3 teenagers were to each other. They’re besties, but I know few adults or kids who affirm each other and their relationships so articulately, openly, and frequently. I may need nicer friends and/or need to be better myself :) The most compelling part of the book for me was the depiction of Muslims (and South Asians) as a vital part of American life and literature. I especially appreciated the gay Muslim plot line. Umar is in the throes of an existential crisis, torn by the seeming conflict between his Muslim faith and his sexuality. Karim explores this thread with sensitivity, nuance, and great feeling, and I hope it provides some solace to any young queer Muslims out there looking for community and acceptance. I also loved the range of Muslim religiosity that the book displayed, from the atheist Muslim to the fully observant. I’ve often been jealous of cultural Jews, or Christians who only show up for the holidays but still get to belong. It doesn’t often feel like Islam, as is practiced by many, makes space for those who don’t follow every last rite and ritual. Maybe Mariam’s road trip will be part of creating that space. I’m already looking forward to Karim’s next.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was so excited to read this because hey, Pakistani American Muslims, like me! HOWEVER!!!!! This book is NOT positive desi Muslim representation. Desis and practicing Muslims are constantly put in a bad light. Every practicing Muslim except for one of the main characters Umar, a gay Muslim boy, is portrayed as either homophobic or racist or both. And while these are real problems in the Muslim community i didn’t think it was fair on Sheba Karim’s part to portray every Muslim character except fo I was so excited to read this because hey, Pakistani American Muslims, like me! HOWEVER!!!!! This book is NOT positive desi Muslim representation. Desis and practicing Muslims are constantly put in a bad light. Every practicing Muslim except for one of the main characters Umar, a gay Muslim boy, is portrayed as either homophobic or racist or both. And while these are real problems in the Muslim community i didn’t think it was fair on Sheba Karim’s part to portray every Muslim character except for Umar as extremely judgmental and backwards. I also didn’t like the fact that all of the adults except for the main character Mariam’s mother, who was raised in America and is an atheist, were horrible people. the other adults who were Muslim and/or raised overseas were terrible and unsupportive of their children, which doesn’t help the image of immigrants in America. In Mariam and Ghazala, Sheba Karim wrote Desi girls that were raised amongst Muslims but do everything they can to remind you that they dont identify as Muslim. It gives off the impression that to be Muslim means you can’t be woke. BUT! THERE ARE MUSLIMS THAT ARE RELIGIOUS AND OPENMINDED. ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE! The only character I somewhat enjoyed reading about was Umar. I liked how he interpreted Quran and sunnah, a lot of which I agreed with. Also the LGBTQ+ panel at the Muslim convention was heartbreaking and made me so mad. It was completely unnecessary to put it in except to remind the readers about the homophobia prevalent in Muslim communities which is a relevant issue but again, THERE ARE MUSLIMS THAT ARE BOTH RELIGIOUS AND TOLERANT. Not once in the book did any Muslim tell Umar that being gay was not a sin in Islam. I thought by the end of this book a lot of the problems I had with the book would be resolved but they weren’t at all. Another reviewer said that this was a book for people who watched ‘The Big Sick’ and thought it was a good movie and I love that comparison. So much about this book was realllllly irritating. the only reason it’s not in my ‘did not finish’ shelf was because I didn’t see a lot of Muslim reviews for it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A fun road-trip story that also includes some opportunities to discuss heavier things like emotional trauma, bias/prejudice, and identity. There were a few cringey moments in the book (mostly jabs that are intended as humor), but overall, I really enjoyed the story of Mariam and her two friends, Ghaz and Umar. I appreciate how well the teens respect each other's needs - sometimes they give each other space, but other times, they force each other to deal with emotional issues and hold each other' A fun road-trip story that also includes some opportunities to discuss heavier things like emotional trauma, bias/prejudice, and identity. There were a few cringey moments in the book (mostly jabs that are intended as humor), but overall, I really enjoyed the story of Mariam and her two friends, Ghaz and Umar. I appreciate how well the teens respect each other's needs - sometimes they give each other space, but other times, they force each other to deal with emotional issues and hold each other's hands throughout.

  16. 3 out of 5

    Summer

    This is pretty great on all fronts. Three Pakistani-American teens face challenges in their communities and the larger world including religion, cultural expectations, what it means to be brown and Muslim in the United States, and just plain becoming an adult and what it feels like to be separating from your parents and community as you grow up. Well rounded characters, authentic dialog that strays into edification but in a good way, a realistic portrayal of the range of adults in these kids' li This is pretty great on all fronts. Three Pakistani-American teens face challenges in their communities and the larger world including religion, cultural expectations, what it means to be brown and Muslim in the United States, and just plain becoming an adult and what it feels like to be separating from your parents and community as you grow up. Well rounded characters, authentic dialog that strays into edification but in a good way, a realistic portrayal of the range of adults in these kids' lives, and the absurdity, racist, and frequently contradictory nature of American culture. Highly recommended for older teens and adults looking to expand their world view, or to have it validated.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Marian

    I think this was a well-written book and I enjoyed it a lot. My only issue is that it is about prejudice, in this case against brown people, and yet I feel the characters in this book were very prejudiced against the American South in general. Sheba Karim does say that EVERYONE is prejudiced to a degree. Yet I felt this in particular was not in keeping with the theme of the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sana

    Such a quick read as well as hella readable since I read it in like less than 12 hours Mariam Sharma Hits the Road tackles a lot of important topics from Islamophobia to queer Muslims (one of three main characters being one) to different types of Muslims and more all in a road trip setting! I always love those. Other plus points are the friendship, zero romance, hilarious and heartwarming moments and yet some of the things felt too forced and not executed all that well. So I need to think about m Such a quick read as well as hella readable since I read it in like less than 12 hours Mariam Sharma Hits the Road tackles a lot of important topics from Islamophobia to queer Muslims (one of three main characters being one) to different types of Muslims and more all in a road trip setting! I always love those. Other plus points are the friendship, zero romance, hilarious and heartwarming moments and yet some of the things felt too forced and not executed all that well. So I need to think about my rating (currently deciding on a 3 or 4 stars) since while I did like the characters a lot (Umar being my favorite), I maybe wanted more from the story itself. Also, want to write down a proper review because I have sooo many things to say about this one; the good, the bad and everything in between.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I was so excited for this book, and I wish I enjoyed it more... it wasn't that I disliked it, necessarily, than just kind of tired at some parts. A lot of the dialogue and thought between the main characters just kind of felt like the rants we have in our head and/or articles we read about cultural politics today; comparisons of privilege, who's better off than the other, here's all the ways we're discriminated against for being gay or confident in ourselves... and these are all good things to t I was so excited for this book, and I wish I enjoyed it more... it wasn't that I disliked it, necessarily, than just kind of tired at some parts. A lot of the dialogue and thought between the main characters just kind of felt like the rants we have in our head and/or articles we read about cultural politics today; comparisons of privilege, who's better off than the other, here's all the ways we're discriminated against for being gay or confident in ourselves... and these are all good things to think about, absolutely, but this is more of a book that you throw at someone who's off in their own little world and doesn't understand/think about these things already. I already read about and think about these things a lot, and I just felt bored. The same old ramblings that I have and read with others on a regular basis, not once, but several times throughout the book. I did not care for another case of "our gay best friend isn't out yet, let's make him more comfortable by taking him out to drag shows!" I never really liked this concept to begin with, and especially now it feels tired and outdated. I feel like I'm in the minority part of the LGBT community where I think it's time to just let drag go/be its own separate thing. I don't feel like it's good representation, I feel like it's problematic and transphobic, and I don't know if the author is in the LGBT community or not, but I could tell she was trying to do good with it... but I guess for me, it's personal when I read the word "queer" thrown around, regardless of whether someone is LGBT or not, it's a sore point with me. And given the diversity of the community in these times, I just don't understand how drag still fits in, and I don't like how it's assumed that every gay boy is automatically interested in it. All that aside, it's a quick read, brings up some good points, shows a lot of social issues regarding being Muslim and how racist people will react to their existence, whether outright or a microaggression, and issues that people also face from their Muslim family members for not being desi enough. I think it's an entertaining book, as well as thoughtful, and a good choice to put out there both for kids to see themselves in its pages, and for others to learn about different communities that they might not think much about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raven Andrus

    3.5. Really sweet book that deals with serious issues in a great way that's easily accessible. Love the diversity and the road trip aspect. So excited for more people to read this!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheyenne Teska

    Mariam, Umar, and Ghaz are three teens who have been emotionally damaged and scarred by their parents in very different ways. Each of them, finding friendship and loyalty in each other, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip. Along the way- like any good road trip story- the characters find themselves and come to realize that what they've got and who they are is better than what they've been chasing their entire lives. Mariam's father abandoned her family when she was only two years old. She's a Mariam, Umar, and Ghaz are three teens who have been emotionally damaged and scarred by their parents in very different ways. Each of them, finding friendship and loyalty in each other, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip. Along the way- like any good road trip story- the characters find themselves and come to realize that what they've got and who they are is better than what they've been chasing their entire lives. Mariam's father abandoned her family when she was only two years old. She's always wanted to know more about him, but her mother erased him from their lives. She never even spoke much of him. Umar comes from a very religious Muslim family, but he's gay and doesn't know how to fulfill that part of his life openly when he knows he would likely be disowned if he ever came out to them. When Ghaz gets in trouble for a risque photoshoot, Mariam and Umar come together to rescue her, Rapunzel style. They hit the road with one destination in mind: New Orleans. With a car, your best friends, and a set of fake IDs, anything is possible. I loved the character dynamics and the topics that this books touched on. Mariam and her friends learn that you don't always need the traditional idea of a family; they're each other's family. Racism and Islamophobia is present in this book as well, which I haven't gotten the chance to experience in many YA books thus far. Going on a road trip through the south, you come across the narrow-mindedness of some, but can be pleasantly surprised by the understanding of others and I felt that this was an important lesson in this book. Overall, I loved every second of Mariam Sharma Hits the Road! There are great friendships, personal growth, and a ton of hilarious one-liners. I especially enjoyed the fact that I'd been to a few of the locations mentioned in the book on a road trip of my own a couple years back. It felt like I could relate to the characters even more! I would definitely recommend to anyone in all walks of life, because it's a very relatable and heartwarming story.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Giulia

    "Knowledge can be painful, but it comes with a sort of peace." TW: homophobia, racism, islamophobia, abusive parents Actual rating: 3.5 ⭐ Quick, light, summer read with, nonetheless, its depth and bite. Part road trip, part coming-of-age, part judgement of our society, this book was a delight to read. It was mainly about friendship with little to no romance and some very serious topics were tackled. In fact, I utterly adored the discourses about religion, faith, feminism, patriarchalism, LGBTQ, fami "Knowledge can be painful, but it comes with a sort of peace." TW: homophobia, racism, islamophobia, abusive parents Actual rating: 3.5 ⭐️ Quick, light, summer read with, nonetheless, its depth and bite. Part road trip, part coming-of-age, part judgement of our society, this book was a delight to read. It was mainly about friendship with little to no romance and some very serious topics were tackled. In fact, I utterly adored the discourses about religion, faith, feminism, patriarchalism, LGBTQ, family, love, friendship, therapy, racism and mental health. Through be told, though, I felt that sometimes some passages were a bit preachy, a touch pretentious and, thus, heavy. Still, I seriously liked how this book engaged with some very interesting and timely topics. Good stuff, really 👌🏻 The characters were unique and three dimensional and I loved how diverse they were: Half Indian, half Hindu main character with practically no sense of humour who’s looking for her father. Pakistani, Muslim, gay side character with a strong faith, an homophobic father and a great fashion sense. Pakistani side character with a somewhat problematic family and a fire-y nature. All three personalities were well flashed out and brought to the table interesting point of views and opinions. Really liked their friendship dynamic and how close they were. The plot was easy to follow and enjoyable for the majority of the time. I thought some parts were a bit boring (for example, twice the characters went to a party and twice the details about said party were too much...it got boring, tbh) but overall funny and light. Even if my rating is only average, I’d highly recommend this book as it’s accessible and easy to read and yet, it majestically handles serious topics and challenges stereotypes. "One of life’s sad truths is that not all of us receive love but every single one of us know pain."

  23. 3 out of 5

    Shelly

    This took me a while to get to (not through any fault of the book, but it's just my own laziness) but I really enjoyed it. It's a fast-paced read that focuses on three friends who all road trip to New Orleans together, each with a different thing to work through. It was both funny at times but also very serious. Mariam Sharma Hits the Road definitely has a little bit of something for everyone.

  24. 3 out of 5

    Joana

    really enjoyed this audiobook. it was a lot of fun but I hoped for the ending to not be so "abrupt"

  25. 3 out of 5

    Marta Boksenbaum

    A really fun road trip book, and maybe a tad heavy handed on the current social and political nature of America, but isn’t that how teens are when they start to inform themselves? Very well written and fun to read.

  26. 3 out of 5

    USOM

    More like 3.5 from me (I want to preface this by saying I am not represented in this book and so I cannot speak to the accuracy of the representation here. I realize I don't say this every review where it's the case and I'm trying to be better about it. While I can read things like Chinese American adoption and some other smaller intersectionalities, that's also a myriad of different experiences there as well. Just saying). Anyway so I want to list what I really liked about this book which were th More like 3.5 from me (I want to preface this by saying I am not represented in this book and so I cannot speak to the accuracy of the representation here. I realize I don't say this every review where it's the case and I'm trying to be better about it. While I can read things like Chinese American adoption and some other smaller intersectionalities, that's also a myriad of different experiences there as well. Just saying). Anyway so I want to list what I really liked about this book which were the varying portrayals of Desi parents. Again, I can't speak to the representation at all. But it was good to see growing up in America in differing lights through very different perspectives. Each of them speak to something different: Mariam's questions about her father (which I could relate a little to as far as this pervasive feeling of wanting to know), Umar's struggles with his sexuality and religion, and Ghaz's challenges growing up with her very strict parents. Characters: 4, Writing: 4, Plot: 3, World: 3 full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Such a great read. It’s about race and prejudice and religion and coming of age. But all the while being a lighthearted and uplifting story of friendship. Even if YA isn’t your jam, check it out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana Prince

    Even though it's a pretty basic slice of life story, it felt a lot more down to Earth and realistic than most contemporaries on this vein. The humor was spot on, and the characters all felt unique and true to themselves. There wasn't really an ending, or any type of closure to really any kind of goal, but weirdly, it actually worked. I probably finished it in about 4 hours and enjoyed it immensely despite it just being a road trip novel and not anything more than that. Would recommend!

  29. 3 out of 5

    Samantha Buyungo

    A fairly entertaining novel about adventure, surprises, and finding yourself. I loved how this book addressed current issues like Islamophobia and sexuality in the context of religion, however, I felt that while the message was important, the plot was a little lacking. I felt that throughout the book, partying and drinking was the sole focus and that the deeper messages came near the end of the novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rashika (is tired)

    That Thing We Call a Heart was one of my favorite books of 2017 so obviously, when I heard about Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, I was ecstatic and ready to dive in. This review is particularly hard because even though, overall, I definitely enjoyed Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, there were times when I felt let down by some of the things the characters said. I am grappling for words as I attempt to describe my feelings because I want to be respectful and clear that these experiences aren’t invalid bu That Thing We Call a Heart was one of my favorite books of 2017 so obviously, when I heard about Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, I was ecstatic and ready to dive in. This review is particularly hard because even though, overall, I definitely enjoyed Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, there were times when I felt let down by some of the things the characters said. I am grappling for words as I attempt to describe my feelings because I want to be respectful and clear that these experiences aren’t invalid but one of the biggest dichotomies in the book is how Mariam is raised vs how her friends are raised. Mariam grew up in a household that wasn’t religious or super connected to their cultural roots and her mom was super supportive whereas her friends grew up in religious households and have shitty parents. My issue wasn’t necessarily that Mariam’s friends had a complex relationship with their parents because of the way they were treated. It was more that the dichotomy that was created made it seem like, to me at least, that growing up in a more religious and traditional household was ultimately a bad thing? To add to this, there were a handful of jokes that the three friends make at the expense of people who wear niqabs. The real issue being that none of this was clearly addressed in the text. It is worth noting that later on in the book, the characters have a very thorough and open conversation about their identities as Pakistani-Americans (or in the case of Mariam, Pakistani-Indian-American), what that means to them and the privileges they have in spite of the prejudice they deal with on a daily basis. When Ghaz signs up to model for an underwear company, she has no idea that her photo will end up on a billboard in Times Square. Gossip soon spreads and her parents lock her up in her room. Potentially indefinitely. Mariam and Umar, worried, decide to perform a daring rescue and go on a road trip to New Orleans. Over the course of the next couple weeks, the three have a number of adventures, attempt to dissect their traumas, and figure out how to move on. My favorite thing about the book is really its intense focus on their friendship. Mariam, Umar and Ghaz are supportive of one another, push each other to be their best selves and are also not perfect. Not when it comes to their friendships and not as human beings. Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is a coming of age novel that explores identities, familial relationships and the power of some really great friendships. It isn’t perfect and I think it is important to be aware of the character’s prejudices but overall, I think the book is definitely worth it. HELL YEAH TO ROAD TRIPS.

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