When Nurah’s father gets a new job in America, her family is uprooted from Pakistan to Peachtree, Georgia, in search of new opportunities to blossom. But Nurah struggles to start fresh. She feels out of place at school, her older brother overshadows her on the swim team, the only new friend she’s made is dealing with trouble at home that Nurah feels powerless to help with, and she misses her grandmother’s flowers in Pakistan. When her father is questioned in the aftermath of a shooting and her brother is attacked in the locker room, Nurah tries to reconcile the America she was promised with the one she is actually experiencing.
Writing in spare but evocative verse, author Reem Faruqi creates a vivid and semiautobiographical tale of faith and family. She captures the beauty of Nurah’s culture, from the aroma of the flowers that Nurah misses to the delicious snacks that Nurah’s mother bakes when they receive visitors at their home. She also poignantly portrays what it’s like to start over someplace new and the way that Nurah remakes herself again and again as she comes into her own and discovers what is most important to her as a daughter, sister, friend and Muslim girl. Her lyrical vignettes are a master class in exploring big themes, including loss, grief, bullying, prejudice and acceptance, in exactly as many words as are necessary.
Unsettled will have readers rooting for Nurah as she swims her way across the finish line to a new understanding of herself and her place in the world.