I don’t know about you, but I can read YA novels for the rest of my life. They are timeless! Here are six with Arabian representations with a range of thriller, fantasy, romance, and drama. Representation matters! Let’s also be clear that Arabian and Muslim are not interchangeable. Someone can be Arabian and be a Muslim, but that may not always be the case. Muslim is a religion. Arabian is an ethnicity. Okay! Are you ready for our list?
1. Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Amani is a dreamer through and through. She dreams of becoming a poet like the old world she once knew and having an adventure. This, unfortunately, is a bit difficult as the world she lives in now is breached by the brutal Vathek empire. She is kidnapped by the regime and taken to a secret royal palace. There, she discovers she’s nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. Because of Maram’s nasty behaviors, she requires a body double, so Amani must die in her place in case of an assassination.
Amani must get used to this new role. As she continues her role as the body double, she can’t help but fall in love with the palace’s beauty and possibly fall in love with the princess’ betrothed, Idris. However, if she makes one wrong move, she will die.
It’s not that often you see an Arabian lead in fantasy unless it’s associated with Aladdin, so have loads of fun with this read!
2. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal
We Hunt the Flame is set in a powerful inspired ancient Arabian world. Identity, fear conquering, and discovery is at the front of this tale.
Zafira is a Hunter. And in the process, she disguises herself as a Man, where she ventures into the cursed forest of the Arz to keep her people fed. If she is discovered as being a girl, all of her appraisals and achievements would go down the drain. On the flip side, Nasir is a man of passion but his father would punish him if he were to show this trait. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya, but both are unaware and don’t choose to be.
War begins to brew, and as such, Zafira embarks on a quest to find an artifact that can give back the magic of her world and stop the Arz. Nasir’s quest is to find the artifact as well but he must kill Zafira in the process. Amidst the conundrum, an evil presence stirs inside the journey, and it might kill everyone in the process.
3. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
Janna Yusuf believes that there are three types of people in the world: Saints, Misfits, and Monsters.
Saints are special people that will do grand things in life. Sometimes they tend to show off a little but it’s all in good spirits.
The Misfits are people that don’t belong. Janna identifies with this trait, especially when her Dad begins a new family.
And the Monsters… they look exactly like the saints, yet they wear masks to disguise their misdoings.
Follow her journey as she figures out who are real saints and who are secretly monsters.
4. Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed
Looking for a thriller mystery? Step into the world of Hollow Fires. Safiya Mirza wants to become a journalist, so when she works as an editor within her school paper, she easily comes to find out that the journalist’s job is to find the facts and not allow personal biases to affect the scoop.
It’s hard to keep a level-headed mind when she stumbles over a body of a dead boy, Jawad Ali. He was just a fourteen-year-old boy who was trying to do cosplay. His teacher mistakes his jetpack for a bomb. Since that moment, he was labeled as “Bomb Boy.” With the help of Ali’s haunting voice in her head during the investigation, Safiya is trying to figure out the whole truth behind his death.
5. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Tareq lives in a country that is tarnished by war. The city is left in disarray, so he and his family travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece. However, danger falls there with every move. This is a family story, but also one about the consequences of wars and the eventual travels that succumb to this fate. Get a box of tissues ready because this one is a tear-jerker.
6. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Let’s travel back in time to the year 2002, which so happens to be right after 9/11 happened. It was a different time for Arabian and Muslim people. Our protagonist, Shirin, is sick of the overused stereotypes labeling her. She’s witnessed and experienced racism in America through physical and emotional violence. At this point, she’s done trying to make friends, so she creates a wall so no one can hurt her.
Cue in Ocean James. He appears to really want to get to know Shirin. At first, she’s alarmed by this, but slowly she begins to pull down her walls. How long that will last is another story.
Hopefully, you enjoyed our picks! For more YA novels, click here!
For more books with BIPOC character leads, click here!