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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  60 reviews
On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008

ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards Bronze Medal Winner (YA Fiction category), 2007

Snow Willow Award nominee, 2008

CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2008

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

A student arrested on suspicions of ter
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (first published September 18th 2007)
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  532 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
A powerful and friendship-driven story which tackles the issue of racial profiling, Bifocal is a short yet very impressive novel.
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
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot
Heather Shaw
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable read. Told by the two main characters with alternating viewpoints, the book tackles a number of controversial issues which could lead to some excellent class discussion.

Haroon and Jay are two senior boys from vastly different racial backgrounds,trying to survive in an ethically divided high school which has worsened since 9/11. We share their experiences, perceptions and participation in a number of events including physical violence and verbal attacks. Neither of th
May 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jay Smith
Jan 22, 2014 marked it as to-read
Joanne Pinder
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking look at racial profiling, told from two points of view: Jay, the white high school football star and Haroon, the (brown) Muslim academic. Although a bit simplistic in part, it would be a great discussion starter in the home or classroom. It looks not only at prejudice based on religion or skin colour, but also at the way we begin at, an early age, to judge others based entirely on their appearance.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel. I love the dual perspective on such a tough topic. This book was a quick and easy read. Despite being called Bifocal, you actually learn about a number of character's perspective. This is a nice companion to To Kill a Mockingbird for grade 9 or 10 students. It gives them insight into the modern racial tensions.
Mariam Arif
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
It’s a good book but a lot of the stuff are wrong. It’s not accurate at all for the facts they give about Islam.
Pat Mills
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, balanced, likeable characters and as always with Debora Ellis, I learned something about myself as well. Bought the book to share.
El's Book Reviews
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book! Read my full review at ! 😃

- El
Lily Porter
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read with my grade 6 class. It has lots of great messages!!
Mar 08, 2017 added it
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Begoña Pereda
Nov 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This fine piece of literature written by two award winning authors originary from Canada, Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters. Something I really liked about it is that it was written in two perspectives Jay's and Haroon's
Jay's part was written by Eric Walters while Haroon's was written by Deborah Ellis. Jay is a white boy that likes to exercise and Haroon is 3rd generation Canadian Persian who is really intelligent.
The story takes place in three places, Jay's house, Haroon's House and their scho
J.S. Green
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-teen-ya, vine
Jay is a relatively new kid at school, but as a good football player he's already managed to integrate himself into the team and the coolest crowd at school. He's even managed to become good friends with the team captain and quarterback, and it looks likely he'll be recommended for captain next year. Haroon is a quiet kid who's a backup for the "Reach for the Top" team, an academic TV competition. He's also a Muslim, his grandparents having emigrated from Afghanistan long before. But things star ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jasmine Hawamdeh
Oct 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: oct-reads
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
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 02, 2016 added it
Shelves: cl-novels
Summary: This novel divides the point of view of two culturally different boys, Jay and Haroon, and how they view and are viewed when a bomb threat is posted at their high school. Jay is a popular football player where Haroon likes to be an invisible Muslim. We see how both boys are affected by this threat and how they come together to view each other as equals.
Review: I thought this novel was very interesting. This novel really proves that there are two sides to every story and that some will
I found this on a swap shelf at our school and immediately picked it up because I remembered this was used in a class by a former colleague and friend (still a friend, but now far away). To my delight, this is in fact her book, so I can benefit from all her margin notes! Not only did I enjoy the story but at times I could almost hear her voice exclaiming and commenting on the book.
This would be a good one for a class, with the same events observed from very different perspectives. The end is a b
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
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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
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