Books - Sheba Karim
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That Thing We Call A Heart

Out May 9, 2017 from HarperCollins

ISBN: 978006244570
ISBN 10: 0062445707

“Populated by complicated characters who are so well described readers will feel they might bump into them on the street, Karim’s second novel delivers on its title’s promise.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

“Shabnam’s relationship with Jamie…is realistic and heartfelt, but the real resonance lies in her hard-won reconnection with Farah and her new consideration of her father and her mother, who emerge as compelling and dimensional characters. Ultimately, this is a warm-hearted story that may encourage readers, like Shabnam, to find possibilities in greater human connections..” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED Review

“[W]hat sets this funny, dialogue-heavy read apart is its nuanced examination of identity…Fans of Sara Zarr and Jenny Han and readers of realistic fiction will enjoy this thoughtful, witty offering.” – School Library Journal

“The contrast between Shabnam (a typical, suburban teen from a nonpracticing Muslim family) and Farah (who melds her punk and religious sensibilities) is thought-provoking and realistic. Additionally, the story touches on the Bosnian genocide, provides a lovely introduction to the beauty of Urdu poetry in translation, and includes a diversity in characters needed in YA novels.  Fresh, funny, and poignant, Karim’s novel is noteworthy for its authentic depiction of a Pakistani American teen coming of age and falling in love.” – Booklist

“What a smart novel Sheba Karim has written!  Just graduated Shabnam embarks upon an unforgettable summer of first love, identity, Partition history, Urdu poetry–and delicious pies. Most touching is Shabnam’s friendship with her best friend, Farah, as they both find their identities as young Muslim women. Karim deftly probes all the important fault lines with humor and grace.”  – Marina Budhos, author of Watched and Ask Me No Questions.

When Shabnam Qureshi’s feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf, it begins to unravel their friendship. After telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Set against a backdrop of Radiohead and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is an honest, moving story of a young woman’s explorations of first love, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

Skunk Girl

Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, March 31, 2009

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points for getting excellent grades

–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister

+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High

–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers

+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage

–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back

In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures – even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.


“Karim’s first novel provides a rare exploration of Muslim culture and will be a welcome addition to teen collections.” —Booklist

“A solid choice.” —School Library Journal

“In this debut, episodic novel, rife with smart, self-deprecating humor . . . Nina searches for identity and emerging independence while accepting the reality of her home life.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Whether they share Nina’s circumstances or not, readers will readily identify with her struggle, and they’ll find her an endearing and admirable literary companion.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books