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I don’t often struggle to put my thoughts on a book into words. I can usually gather my thoughts and get them to form (mostly) coherent words without too much trouble. That is most definitely NOT the case with Hollow Fires. This book just hits differently. I think part of it is because while it is a work of fiction, there is so much real in this book. So much relevance. So much pain. So much TRUTH. One thing I CAN put into words is that this book is powerful. Hollow Fires is a powerful book…and it is going to have people talking! I would like to thank my friends at NOVL for sending this my way for review! I would also like to offer a warning about the content below…it does discuss murder of a child, racism, and Islamophobia.
Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed
Hollow Fires is the latest YA novel from New York Times Bestselling author Samira Ahmed. It is the story of Safiya Mirza and Jawad Ali. Safiya is nearing the end of her time in highschool. She is a journalism student who is the editor of her school newspaper. She is also the person who discovered the body of Jawad Ali. Jawad was a 14 year old boy who was so proud of the cosplay jetpack he built. The very same jetpack that his teacher mistook for a bomb. The very same jetpack that got him arrested. The very same jetpack that got him labeled “Bomb Boy”. And the very same jetpack that led to his murder.
So how is it that Safiya is the one who finds Jawad’s body? Well, with the help of Jawad himself. You see, she can hear his voice. Softly at first. He needs her help. He desperately wants to be found, wants his parents to have closure, wants to be at rest, and wants his murder to be solved.
Safiya wants to solve this murder not only to get justice for Jawad, but to draw attention to the hate, racism, and prejudices that permeate her community and this country.
Gut-Wrenching Dual POV
Before I jump into my thoughts on Hollow Fires, I want to share something that brought the book to life for me. It is also one of the most gut-wrenching things for me about the book! Hollow Fires is told as a dual POV. We are hearing this story from both Safiya AND Jawad. Hearing Jawad’s voice throughout this book takes something that is already utterly heartbreaking and tragic and just amplifies it. It gives a voice to the victim. Makes him real. It was done so beautifully in this book…heartbreakingly beautiful.
Why I Loved this Book
Hollow Fires is a book that is going to get people talking. It is going to make people cry. It is going to make people mad (for different reasons I would bet). It tackles HARD topics. Author Samira Ahmed does not shy away from these topics…and she does not sugarcoat anything. The themes of racism, Islamophobia, white supremacy, media bias…it is all here. It hits hard. And it is important. These are things we SHOULD be talking about.
Not only does this book tackle these important and relevant topics, but at its core it is a fabulous YA murder mystery/thriller. It has all of the twists, turns, and spine-tingling moments that I look for in a good mystery/thriller. I will say that I DID figure out the end of the book before the end of the book. I think part of that is because I read a TON of books and am always suspicious of everyone in a story. Seriously…you don’t want me trying to solve a crime because I will be suspicious of every single person in the room. Even my husband isn’t safe. Sorry, Chris.
I mentioned that this is a book that is going to get people talking. On that note…it would make an incredible book club book. There is a lot to unravel in this book and it is honestly SO relevant that you can tie so much of it what is happening every single day.
There is so much more I want to say. It was just phenomenal. 5 star read for me. If you do read it, be sure to check out the Historical Note and Authors Note at the end. She shares some of the inspiration for the book…I don’t want to give any spoilers…so check it out!
For More Info
Again I would like to say a huge thank you to NOVL for sending this book and some beautiful pins my way. As always, all of my opinions are my own!
I can’t recommend this book enough. It was stellar. The writing was amazing. The story is one that needed to be told. It is haunting, heartwarming, heartbreaking, compelling, and so relevant. If you love a good murder mystery/ghost story…definitely give this a read!
Is this going to be THE book for everyone. Nope. But, I dare say those who are going to be the most resistant to reading it are probably going to be the ones who need to read it the most…