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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  39 reviews
On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008 ForeWord Magazineas Book of the Year Awards Bronze Medal Winner (YA Fiction category), 2007

Snow Willow Award nominee, 2008

CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2008

"Two bestselling authors join forces to write a powerful novel about racism."

A student arrested on suspicions o
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (first published September 18th 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Dear Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters:

I get it. Racism is bad. Religious intolerance is bad. In this post-9/11 world we live in, danger can come from anywhere and it's very easy for anyone to be accused of terrorism and this is also bad. I PROMISE, YOU HAVE MADE YOUR POINT.

I understand and respect what you were trying to do with this story - having one of you write from the perspective of a white football player and the other write about a Muslim Afghan boy and then tossing them together at a hig
I liked this book a lot
Heather Shaw
s it a longing for order, ethnic magnetism, or adolescent xenophobia that makes high school lunchrooms such showcases for segregation—or is that “niche societies? At Bifocal’s Central Secondary, a high school in an unnamed Canadian metropolis, there’s a section for the kids from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East called Brown Town. There’s a place over by the doors, nearly outside, for the Goths and “emos,” who are “sort of diet-Goth.” The black kids sit in Cafrica near the Asian kids who dres ...more
3.5 stars

I liked it, even though it is VERY flawed, with a few inconsistencies, but it gets the point across (although both authors are white, and far removed from their teenage years).

It could have been done much better, but I still liked it, if only that there are few teen books that deals specifically with this type of racism. (Well, there are books about this, but are almost always written by real Muslims and almost never see a mainstream following.)

Additionally, it deals almost completely w
I chose to read this book because a friend recommended it to me. When I realized it was by two very good authors, I was very excited to read it. I found the book somewhat disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it, but I thought it would be better. The ideas are very timely, and the idea of the story being from two different perspectives is always interesting. I just felt like the writing didn't really grab me. I wonder if that comes from two authors trying to write together? I would st ...more
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I have really enjoyed Ellis' other books, but somehow couldn't connect with this story. The novel is split into chapters narrated by different characters. I enjoyed this aspect as it gave differing views and perspectives. The book is set in post 9/11 USA and is about racism, religion and loyalty. When tagging: 'Camel jockeys go home', and ham (offensive to Muslims) is strewn around; it seemed too far-fetched to me. Maybe in NZ we are more tolerant or keep our racist thoughts to ourselves. I did ...more
Jay Smith
Jan 22, 2014 Jay Smith marked it as to-read
Jasmine Hawamdeh
This book starts off quite confusing but you catch on; this book is by two authors that I really look up to so why wouldn't I pick up this book!? It starts with two boys and you get introduced to them by thinking what they are thinking. The chapters alternate between characters. Jake and Haroon.
Jake is a "typical white boy". He gets decent grades, is on the football team and is pretty popular but nothing un-ordinary. Haroon is a Muslim boy whose parents originated from Afghanistan. Is really sma
Jun 04, 2009 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone
Why isn't anybody/everybody talking about this book?!?!?!

I realize this came out a while ago (2007) and Deborah Ellis is famous in some circles but not others yet I have no idea why this title has not received more publicity and recognition. This book is amazing. Ellis and Walters (they wrote the book together) created an incredibly engaging and thought-provoking novel that, at times, can make you uncomfortable but gets you thinking and asking questions about our own stereotypes and prejudices
A very good book for all ages and people!
There is a lot of mystery in this book, and sometimes you could even call it a scary book.
The thing I liked most about this book are the characters. They are so different but still so alike, and they have two totally different worlds. At the end of the book the characters don't feel like two characters anymore, but turn into one whole, magical character.
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. It is one of those books you don't want to put down
Teen Book Club selection for March. An amazing story told in two voices of two high school students: one white, one brown after the arrests of the "terrorists" in Toronto. It is based on those facts, but it is a fictional story. There are a lot of powerful images and concepts in this book about race, racism, difference, change, and growth.
This was a terrible novel.
There was no exciting action,
horrible plot line,
boring characters,
extremely racist which is waaaayyyy unrealistic
no setting

In conclusion worst book ever and if
you are trying to raise awareness for
racism you're doing it the wrong way.

1/5 or 2/10

This book was a very good read. I felt nervous when I would put it down because I felt lile I left someone in a situation. The book deals or is about two different boys and how their worlds collide.
Both characters are telling the same story,but fromtheir point of view. They both do a great job of explaining what they live due to stero types and clicks in school.
I wonder how many Jays and Haroons are out their? In their own way and live, but int he same idea of worries and problems.
I reallt could
This book takes place in a high school and deals with fear, prejudice and racial tension. The story is alternatley told between two students. Haroon who is a Muslim of Afgani decent and Jay a Christian who is Caucasian. It is evident that their are many "groups" in school and everyone is divided by status and skin color. Most people stick with their groups and do not care to learn about others and respect their differences. I think this is a good book dealing with racial bias that can help stude ...more
This is the same story told from the viewpoint of two different teenagers from two different cultures with their parts written by two different award-winning authors. (see my complete review here at

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.
This is an amazing novel that examines how the war on terror affects students in a large high school. Co-written by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters, it focuses on the lives of two students (one Caucasian and one Islamic). This novel is written in a realistic tone, and there is no obvious antagonist as each character reveals how they are personally struggling with race issues. In summary, this is an honest and thought-provoking book written by two excellent writers.
This is an amazing novel that examines how the war on terror affects students in a large high school. Co-written by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters, it focuses on the lives of two students (one Caucasian and one Islamic). This novel is written in a realistic tone, and there is no antagonist as each character reveals how they are personally struggling with race issues. In summary, this is an honest and thought-provoking book written by two excellent writers.
Jay and Haroon are teammates on the football team. At their high school one day, there is a complete lockdown, this is not a drill lockdown. The police, swat team swarm the building and take away Azeem, a Muslim like Haroom. He is accused of terrorist activity. Suddenly the lines between the Muslims and the rest of the student population grow much darker. Haroon finds out he does have the courage to stand up for what is right, no matter who disagrees with him.
Duncan Prescott
Really heart wrenching as the authors allow us to see prejudice and racism from the inside. Both from the POV of the receiver and the perpetrators. Some stereotypical situations as far as the football team is concerned but to see the "Browns" get hit ripped my heart away. I came away with a deep love for Muslims that I know Jesus has. Great book.
This book was definately a page turner, just one of those books you can't put down. But it was not an great book. I didn't think the plot connected well at the end and there were many things that were not tied up.

Overall, good book.
There are some social justice novels that winningly combine story, human characters, and message. Bifocal is not one of them, committing the sin of forgetability as well as leaving logic and human characters beyond. Avoid.
Jan 02, 2012 Marianne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tracy
Shelves: student-choice
This was a "good read!". I enjoyed the parallel viewpoints and how the two authors worked side by side. It was wonderful how ordinary the two boys were - stereotypical and yet principled. Tracy would enjoybthis.
Lots to dig in to, plenty to make connections with throughout the story, but extremely repetitive and uncomfortable with how often the racism is 'hinted at'.

Good read for pre-teens.
Meghan Spencer
I was actually pretty into this book, until the ending just completely failed to match with the rest of the book. It was way too abrupt and didn't actually resolve anything.
Outstanding book! A lot of racism. But what made it so much better was when Debrah Ellis wrote Haroon and Eric Walters wrote Jay. I like how they include different religions.
Tamara Kirchner
I loved this book, The football players, The boys ;)
I couldnt keep this book down! Loved it :D
Best school project ever!
(Thank you Mr. Lenila/Grade 9 English Teacher)
At first I didn't think I was going to like this book, but I ended up loving it!!! I read it in my lass in grade eight and the teacher never wanted to put it down !
It is well written and deals with issues of prejudice and peer pressure and teens. The opinions we have of various races and religions are hard to break.
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t
More about Deborah Ellis...
The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner, #1) Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4) I Am a Taxi

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