This heartfelt coming-of-age novel in verse tells the powerful story of a seventh grade Syrian-American boy and his struggles, big and small, as he navigates middle-school.
Seventh grade begins and Kareem’s fallshouldbe off to a great start. But he’s already fumbled it.
His best friend moved away, he bungled his tryout for the football team, and because of his heritage, he was voluntoldto show the new kid – a Syrian refugee with a thick and embarrassing accent – around school. Just when Kareem thinks his middle school life has imploded, the hot-shot QB promises to get Kareem another tryout for the squad. There’s a catch: to secure that chance, Kareem must do something he knows is wrong.
Then like a surprise blitz, Kareem’s mom returns to Syria to bring her aging parents out of a war zone and to the United States. But a new executive order prevents her from coming home. If Kareem could throw a penalty flag on the fouls of his school and home life, it would be for Unnecessary Roughness.
Kareem is stuck between. Between countries. Between friends, between football, between parents—and between right and wrong. It’s up to him to step up, find his confidence, and navigate the beauty and hope found somewhere in the middle.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers