As the only Muslim-American teen in his neighborhood, Sami has always struggled to fit in. It’s difficult to balance hanging out with his carefree friends and living up to his parents’ strict religious expectations. After his father cancels plans to take Sami to Toronto for a father-son bonding weekend, Sami becomes suspicious of his father’s recent secretive behavior. Is his ultra-conservative father having an affair? Or is he involved in something far more sinister?
The best part of BORDERLINE is the character of Sami. As a teen caught between cultures, he’s very sympathetic and it’s easy to relate to his feelings of alienation. It’s because I liked Sami so much that I was willing to go with the flow even when the plot became a bit soap-operatic in the later chapters.
It’s not really a spoiler to say the FBI gets involved, and that there is a terrorist investigation of Sami’s family, because the book is marketed to accentuate that plot point (though it doesn’t come until about halfway through the novel). The portrayal of the FBI here was a bit strange, and I got the feeling the novel was strongly criticizing their procedures. It’s a controversial subject, to be sure. On the one hand, it’s good to know that the FBI and anti-terror agencies are thorough. On the other hand, they can be very quick to jump to conclusions which have long-lasting, life-ruining implications on the accused and their families who are mercilessly battered by the court of public opinion.
BORDERLINE is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it on the author’s website.