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Book Review - Ask Me No Questions

Sneha Durgapal

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos is an enjoyable, yet simple, novel about the struggles of an illegal immigrant family in a post 9/11 environment. Nadira Hossain and her family emigrated from Bangladesh years ago, escaping the frequent floods, destroyed crops, and limited schooling opportunities by moving to the U.S, the country of golden possibilities. However, the family was not able to receive a permanent visa, and Nadira, her sister, Aisha, their father and mother overstayed their welcome in the U.S for many years – illegally. Though the Hossains always dreamt of becoming legal citizens of the United States, things didn’t work out for them. After 9/11, being a Muslim became dangerous and official papers, passports, and visas were checked for illegal aliens. In fear of being found out the Hossains fled to the Canadian border for asylum, only to be turned away. As the family tried to return to their home in New York City, their true identity was revealed, and Nadira’s father was forced into detention in a police cell. Nadira’s mother stayed in Canada, while Nadira and Aisha drove back to NYC to live with their aunt.

      This is where Nadira’s struggle begins to keep calm in spite of her father’s arrest, her separated family, and the looming threat that her father could be deported back to Bangladesh. Additionally, Aisha, normally a model student and candidate for class valedictorian, breaks down from pressure and it’s also up to Nadira to provide strength and support for her sister so Aisha can go to the college of her choice the following year.  

      Aisha had college interviews and a future to think about before her family broke into pieces. Now, even though her teachers are pushing her, she can’t seem to find the strength to keep up her excellent schoolwork standard and plan for college. Additionally, no one except for Nadira knows the reason for Aisha’s sloppier schoolwork and lower grades. Nadira slowly help her sister realize that she has to fight for what she wants to achieve, and Aisha gradually morphs back into her normal, bright self.

      The novel concludes with Nadira’s father coming back from his detention with permanent visas, and Aisha giving her acceptance speech to her valedictorian award. The family is happily reunited, and Nadira and Aisha learn lot of new lessons about determination, will – power, and working hard for what you want to achieve.

Sneha Durgapal is a 7th Grader in Lexington, MA

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