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I Am Thunder

Written by Muhammad Khan

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Gritty Reads Recommended Children's eBooks Romance / Relationship Stories School Stories

LoveReading View on I Am Thunder

Brave British Muslim keeps her head after losing her heart

Winner of The Branford Boase Award 2019 | February 2018 Debut of the Month

An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter.

Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is.

Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. 

Joanne Owen

I Am Thunder Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a novelist. There's just one problem - her super-controlling parents have already planned her life out for her: Step 1) Get educated Step 2) Qualify as a doctor Step 3) Marry a cousin from Pakistan. Oh, and boyfriends are totally haram. No one is more surprised than humble Muzna when high school hottie, Arif Malik, takes an interest in her. But Arif and his brother are angry at the West for demonizing Islam and hiding a terrible secret. As Arif begins to lead Muzna down a dark path, she faces a terrible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak up and betray her heart? I Am Thunder is the debut novel from stunning YA voice, Muhammad Khan, which questions how far you'll go to stand up for what you believe.

I Am Thunder Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Humaira Kauser, age 19  - 'I hope more books are written in this vain. We need more people like Muhammad Khan to craft stories like this to not only show that we are not alone but also so people understand.'
  • Izzy Read, age 16 - 'This funny, gritty coming of age novel could not be more needed in this current day and age. I can only hope I can find more books like it!'
  • Megan Chambers, age 16 - 'It was a relatively easy read, but dealt with delicate topics, so I’d definitely recommend this book to people, especially those wanting to get out of a reading slump.'
  • Imogen Breaks, age 14 - 'I Am Thunder is about a young Muslim girl and what she has to face every day, just to stand up for what's right. Her narration tells an eye-opening story that you have to read to truly believe.'
  • Michelle Armstrong-Harris - 'A very current storyline which deals with a complex context well. Definitely a YA book most suitable for 14 years plus.'
  • Laura Solomon, age 14 - 'Muhammad Khan writes confidently in the style of a 16 year old girl showing modern day threats and whimsical humour. His interesting perspective only accentuates the troubling subject matter.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This was a beautiful and heartbreaking book , the main character had such a great sense of humour I was rooting for her to do well. I read this in one sitting, it was marvellous.'
  • Celeste Phelan, age 16 - 'A very relevant novel in today’s society, addressing the ever increasing problems of extremism and discrimination, keeping the reader gripped.'

I Am Thunder Press Reviews

This fierce, fresh UK debut has one of the most distinctive narrators I've read in ages. Muzna's warmth and heart transform what could have been a gritty issues book into a powerful call for hope and standing up for your beliefs.    Bookseller

An exciting new voice in YA     Netgalley Books of the Month

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781509874057
Publication date: 25/01/2018
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781509874057
Publication date: 25th January 2018
Author: Muhammad Khan
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Gritty Reads, Romance / Relationship Stories, School Stories
Recommendations: eBooks, Reviewed by Children
Collections: Diverse Voices - 80 Children's Books that Celebrate Difference,

About Muhammad Khan

Muhammad Khan is an engineer, a secondary-school maths teacher and YA author. His critically acclaimed debut novel I Am Thunder was shortlisted for numerous awards including the Great Read Award and TSBA Book Awards, among others making him a promising voice in the YA fiction world. He lives in South London and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s. On winning the prestigious Branford Boase Award 2019 for his outstanding debut he said; ‘I am stunned, humbled and thrilled to learn that I am Thunder has won the Branford Boase Award. To do so ...

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