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Muzna Saleem is the only child of Pakistani parents. Her mother and father have high hopes of her becoming a doctor but she wants to be a writer. Her father loses his job and a cousin takes pity on them. They move into a flat above the cousin’s Michelin-starred restaurant and her father becomes a waiter.
This offers Muzna an opportunity to reinvent herself as she starts at a new school. She is still a serious scholar and gets on well with English teacher and form tutor, Mr Dunthorpe. And she meets Arif Malik.
She becomes convinced by Arif and his brother Jameel that the Islamic faith is the right one but just in time realises that Jameel is a terrorist. She goes to the police.
Mohammad Khan’s narrative is very convincing. We really get to know Muzna well and can understand how she almost became radicalized. The issue is complex. Muzna’s teenage rebellion against her parents takes the form of her becoming more religious.
This is truly a bildungsroman. Muzna learns to make her own mind up. It has an upbeat ending: she successfully helps the police to prevent a disaster, she is reconciled with her parents and in the final scene she meets Arif again. There is every hope that their relationship can continue.