Maya Aziz is a seventeen year old Indian-American Muslim living in Illinois. Her parents are loving and respectable, dentists by profession. Maya is an amateur film maker. She loves her camcorder and admits to herself that she hides behind its lens to distance herself from the turmoil of the outside world. She hopes to attend film school in New York. Her parents have other ideas, thinking of her film-making as just a teenage hobby. She’ll soon grow out of it. They want her to attend the nearby university of Chicago and study medicine or the law, this as a preliminary to marrying a nice young Indian man and providing charming grandchildren.
Maya’s only supporter is her maternal aunt Hina, who lives alone in Chicago and works as a graphic designer. Will Maya get her wish? And if so at what cost to her, her family and her community? To make matters more complex, the narrative is disrupted by a terrorist incident.
Ahmed provides the reader with a rare and valuable insight into the life and problems of a young person living at the confluence of three traditions. She also compels non-Muslim readers to scrutinise their own prejudices towards those of the Muslim faith, a most valuable service. For this reviewer it was a weakness that Maya’s parents were quite so oppressive, not to say tyrannical. Ahmed gives a dispiriting picture of first-generation Indian migrants to the USA. One can only hope they are not typical.