The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Middle East

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem

A Syrian kid living through the Syrian civil war decides to interview other kids his age using his phone to document what’s going on. He shares it on social media like YT Tw and FB. He felt like he was being targeted by bombs for his news videos. Tense, informative, serious, sad, but also has happy moments. Read it all in one sitting. Hard to put down.

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, (List Price: $12.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759556904, September 2022)

Reviewed by Eliza, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi

When Man Booker Prize winner Jokha Alharthi writes, a river of emotions pours from her in the most beautiful way possible. Her latest translated novel features a young Omani student in London attempting to come to terms with the grief and regrets of losing her devoted grandmother by not attending to her when she needed her most. The tale drifts back and forth through time, giving the reader a view into the two strikingly different lives of these women; where both bear the weight of unfulfilled desires. This was an exquisite and haunting read.

Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220038, May 2022)

Reviewed by Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan

I’m still on a globetrotty search for coming-of-age stories set in the 1990s (specifically 92-96) to hold up my bland high school soft-serve experience-machine. This one here is a perfectly paced and passionate ode to Lebanon, family drama and young friendship, served up like a mystery.

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan, (List Price: $19.99, World Editions, 9781642861075,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Nour and her cousin Amir live in Damascus, playing and reading and planning a secret club when the war in Syria comes to their city. Soon they are forced to spend their nights in a basement, and during the day Amir and his friends collect the books left on the streets of Damascus. With the books piling up, Noor and Amir decide to start a secret library- a place for their friends to find hope,adventure, and comfort. The illustrations are lovely and I’m always a sucker for a board book about books!

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska, (List Price: $17.99, Barefoot Books, 9781646862917,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz, historical fiction go-to for middle school, has moved from WWII to more contemporary times with his newest novel Ground Zero. Told from the viewpoint of two teens on opposite sides of the globe, Gratz reframes the 9/11 story for the eyes and ears of young readers. This one is sure to be an instant bestseller.

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz (List Price: $17.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338245752, 2/2/2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

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