Title: Here to Stay
Author: Sara Farizan
Pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Availability: Available now!
Summary: For most of high school, Bijan Majidi has flown under the radar. He gets good grades, reads comics, hangs out with his best friend, Sean, and secretly crushes on Elle, one of the most popular girls in his school. When he’s called off the basketball team’s varsity bench and makes the winning basket in a playoff game, everything changes in an instant.
But not everyone is happy that Bijan is the man of the hour: an anonymous cyberbully sends the entire school a picture of Bijan photoshopped to look like a terrorist. His mother is horrified, and the school administration is outraged. They promise to find and punish the culprit. All Bijan wants is to pretend it never happened and move on, but the incident isn’t so easily erased. Though many of his classmates rally behind Bijan, some don’t want him or his type to be a part of their school. And Bijan’s finding out it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends… [Image and summary via Goodreads]
Review: To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d like Here to Stay — I’m not a basketball person or a sports person, or even a contemporary YA person. But, within pages, I was hooked by Here to Stay’s nerdy jock narrator Bijan. This book is a slam dunk for contemporary YA (and yes, ‘slam dunk’ is the only basketball term I know), and here’s why…
The book centers around Bijan, a comic-loving kid with a single mom and a trusty best friend. When he’s taken off the bench for a basketball game and has his moment in the sun on the court, he’s suddenly in the public eye. His newfound fame doesn’t mean it’s all popularity, parties, and smooth sailing, though. He becomes the target of racist cyberbullying, amidst changes to the school climate.
Most of the cast, such as Bijan’s friends and teammates, have their own narrative arcs and shining moments, but what I loved most was Bijan himself and his lively sports commentator narration. While a little more shy about putting himself out there, his inner life is filled with wry and sharp observations. I came across my favorite moment from him early on in the book:
This is the part where I’m supposed to use food metaphors to describe everyone’s respective complexions. It makes me cringe a little, the way all books we read in English class describe people’s skin color using food metaphors. One day, when we were reading yet another description of a character with skin the color of caramel or chocolate, Elle pointed out that people aren’t edible. I’d been thinking a lot about that.
From that scene on, I was sold. I read the whole book in one sitting.
In 2018, people might say that this book is particularly topical, given the current issues of today — but of course, racism is not new. Bullying is not new. None of this is new or unique to 2018. What I will say is that this book feels right. It’s current now, and it would have been current years ago, and it will be current, unfortunately, in years to come. Whatever happens, I hope you’ll give Here to Stay a read. It’s an excellent book and a solid contemporary YA book.
Recommendation: Buy it now!