Read That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim Online


Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is reaShabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying. With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman's explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true....

Title : That Thing We Call a Heart
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25752164
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

That Thing We Call a Heart Reviews

  • Emily May
    2018-07-27 16:45

    “My arms are hairy, too,” I said. “Except I epilate them.”As she wrinkled her forehead, I realized too late that could be construed as an insult.“Do you always lead like that?” she asked.“Beginnings aren’t my strong point,” I admitted.From the very first page, I had a feeling I was going to love That Thing We Call a Heart. Shabnam's narrative voice snared me right away with her snark and humour, and it went on to become a really great book about friendship, Islam and Urdu poetry. It also managed to surprise me, which doesn't happen too often in YA Contemporary anymore.This is an ownvoices story about a Pakistani-American teenager and explores the diversity among Muslims. We see the difference between Shabnam, her mother, her best friend Farah, and Farah's devout mother. Karim shows how there is no one way to be Muslim, especially in today's world, and especially for women. Farah is a strong-willed, punk-loving feminist who wears a hijab and is proud of it. She describes herself as:I’m too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims. Shabnam is actually quite uncomfortable when Farah firsts starts wearing the headscarf, and she is not sure if she even considers herself Muslim. She defies conventional Islam, though many of her family are more conservative and traditional. Non-Muslim readers would do well to pay attention: Islam covers a diverse group of people who all have different beliefs and behaviours. Some are extremely pious, others not so much. Some Muslim women very feminist, others not. What really surprised me about That Thing We Call a Heart is that I thought I knew what I was getting into: another cute contemporary romance, but with a Muslim protagonist. Oh, how wrong I was. It wasn't what I was expecting, and that was great. It's actually about the importance of friendship, in this case between Muslim teenage girls, and about poetry. It contains honest (and funny) discussions about all the hairy smelliness of being a teenager. It's also a seriously sarcastic takedown of racism, cultural stereotypes, Islamophobia, and ignorance. Some of the humour is pretty dark:Right before lunch, a freshman I’d never seen before stopped me and said, “Hey, man, sorry about your uncle getting gassed.”“No one got gassed during Partition,” I told him. “You’re thinking of a different genocide.”Also, Farah is a queen of awesome:Ashish asked, “I don’t understand why the Muslims don’t tell the terrorists to stop?”For Farah, this was some kind of breaking point, the end of nice.She clapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh. My. God. You are so right! Hold on—” She took out her phone and pretended to dial. “Hello, Terrorists? Hi! Can you please stop blowing stuff up, it’s becoming a real drag. You will stop? No more beheadings, no more suicide bombs? Awesome, thanks! What? Can I stop US hegemony? Sure, no problem, I’ll make sure it’s over by tomorrow. All right, later! Holy shit, Ashish, thanks to you I just saved the world.”I loved her so so much. So much.Just to warn you, though: if you were offended by the content/quotes from the recent The Black Witch scandal, I don't recommend reading this book. Shabnam is a complex, messy teenager and, as such, she does some really unlikeable things. Some of her comments could be construed as racist, fatphobic - I’d gained at least a pound in less than two days, not what you wanted to happen when you were about to start college. Between breaking up and the freshman fifteen, I’d be a water buffalo by May. - or just bad taste. But, as she says:“I’m not your miracle, I’m just a regular screwed-up teenage girl"Maybe this doesn't count for something for others, but it does for me. I thought she was a sympathetic, realistic character and I can't wait to see what characters this author creates in the future. That Thing We Call a Heart was just a hilarious, smart and charming novel.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  • Cait • A Page with a View
    2018-08-02 19:45

    Publication date: May 9, 2017If you're only reading a few books this spring, make sure this is one of them. The whole thing is so well done!!This was a coming-of-age story that takes place during Shabnam Qureshia's last summer before college. When Shabnam's best friend Farah starts wearing hijab they begin to drift apart. Shabnam hates all of the attention where everything is now focused on Islam, so she doesn't always support her friend in public. Farah "worried that if she was too rude or sarcastic [people] might walk away with a bad impression of a religion that already had enough negative press. But this also meant she had to suppress her natural impulses, and it made her less fun." Farah fashions her headscarf into Princess Leia buns, wears a scarf with raised fists, has a totally unique sense of style, and is just unapologetically herself. She's an amazingly inspirational feminist and I'd love to have a whole other book with her rants:"I'm too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims... but then I think, why does it matter what they think of me? I refuse to spend my life proving myself... I'm going to wear a headscarf and I'm going to pray and fast and I'm going to smoke ganja and I'm going to get into Harvard Medical School." "Rapunzel, my ass. I've got barbed wire and a moat around this tower.""That's why guys get away with being shitheads, because their baseline is so goddamn low, even lower if they're cute. Oh, you'd never date rape me? Awesome! Oh, you actually listened to something I said without talking over me? You're such a great guy!"At the start of the story Shabnam is embarrassed to be seen with her great-uncle who wears a black vest & shalwar kameez and has a long beard. While she's avoiding being seen with him at the mall she meets a random cute guy. Those two end up spending the summer working at a pie stand and Shabnam falls in love super fast like a Bollywood movie. (I wasn't that into the romance, but luckily it's NOT the cliche summer YA love story at all). Shabnam's socially awkward mathematician father has a deep love for Urdu poetry and they grow closer throughout the story by discussing it. I adored her father and all of the other scenes of ordinary moments like the Bosnian men playing cards in the donut shop. (PS I neeeeed a donut shop like that to be near me). This story really is about different types of love -- friendship, families, and romantic. All of the discussion of Sufi poets & love was SO well done, too. I think I might have been so enthusiastically into this story because it involved several topics I really care about (I've spent a lot of time studying the Bosnian genocide, Partition, and Sufi poets, so that was a solid blend for me). Those discussions were really powerful and so, so important. But at the same time I think this story is just straight up relatable no matter what!! If you know nothing about those topics, this would be an amazing place to start. The writing is really strong and gives Shabnam's narration a totally genuine and lovable tone. It was refreshing to see such casual & open discussions about love, sex, how people say ignorant things, body odor, religion, etc because it made all of the characters totally realistic. And the book feels like a character study, which actually worked really well because characters themselves are what make this book so utterly charming and powerful. I had to stop reading halfway through and preorder a finished copy because I was so into this story!Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. These quotes were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2018-08-14 14:07

    I did like a lot of things about this but ultimately?! I was so frustrated. It falls under the category of: "The Protagonist Is Really Horrible And Selfish But Learns How To be a Decent Human And Has A Great Arc By The End." But heckin' help me I had to go through like 200 pages of Shabnam being a selfish mongoose to start with.And to top it off, her best friend who is a hijab wearing punk-styled epic feminist, was FREAKING AWESOME. I would 500% love a book about Farah. She was incorporating wearing Leia buns into her hijab and wanted to be true to herself and her religion and family. And here we get stuck with Shabnam instead. Having a summer fling with an asshat boy.I FEEL SO CHEATED.Anyway.So it's basically the story of Shabnam who meets a boy and they pursue a summer of romance. I really really struggled with she's so entitled and rude? For instance:+ her parents are super lovely and her mother like does everything for Shabnam but Shabnam is so rude to her??+ Shabnam is like "we're not rich" while her parents bought her a car and paid for most of her college education+ She legit ditches her friend Farah for deciding to wear a hijab and Shabnam didn't want people to think she was religious like Farah is+ She is totally okay with boys being self-entitled asses if they're cute and charming some of the time+ She never cares when Farah is hurting+ Everything is about Shabnam. ALL THE TIME.+ Oh and she makes up a tragic/romantic tale about her uncle in the genocide of the Partition to keep her classmates interested. what.And Jamie? GOD HE WAS SO AWFUL.They meet in a lingerie shop where he's buying perfume for his mum (LOL @ THAT, I BET HE WASN'T) and then they meet randomly at a market and he's like: "Oh do you want a job at my aunt's pie store!" Boom. Shabnam has a job. Then I also felt Jamie was used as like a way to info dump. He'd ask questions and talk about stuff that was COMPLETELY random and then Shabnam would be able to just give a lecture on Urdu poetry. Now I think it was amazing how much culture was in here. 10/10 for learning things. But the way it came up in the story felt really awkward.Oh and did I mention Jamie heard Shabnam's name and is like: "Oh what does it mean?" I have heard of POC expressing how demeaning this is. And then when she says it means Mountain Dew, he calls her THAT instead of Shabnam. Which could be endearing, but it feels like that whole problematic circumstance of a white boy doesn't like the "foreign" name, so renames the girl. Not to mention he says she's more beautiful when she smiles. Oh and at a donut store, he asks the owner (who is a Bosnia refugee) how the genocide was.Can Jamie be punched now...or?But hah Shabnam was smitten and Jamie was mostly charming...sooo... [eye roll] Like I GET IT. It's not about the fluffiest romance ever but I hated Jamie and couldn't see anything good about him the entire time, so all Shabnam's fluffy "oMIGOSH I'M IN LOVE" was so frustrating for me. Also full on instalove. Ugh. Also this: Plus it was hot, and at some point even Jamie started sweating, though his sweat smelled like pie.Apparently there is a point in your love life where you can be so stupefied by love for a boy that you are FULLY DELUSIONAL about what sweat smells like.At least I learn a lot about Urdu poetry?!And they did talk about historical events that people cover up, which was really interesting and I'm glad the book talked about it! I also so loved Shabnam's mother, who was so lovely and supportive and just #YAS for great parents in YA!! And again, Farah was a gift to this world. I reeeeally wanted to read more about her! I get that this book was about Shabnam learning not to be ashamed of her religion and her character arc was good -- but reading a book about someone who's mean to everyone until the last chapters is really not my thing?!? #SORRY

  • Sarah
    2018-07-29 15:01

    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)“Tell him, I thought. What do you have to lose?My pride, for one. And that thing we call a heart.”This was a YA contemporary story about a Pakistani-American girl called Shabnam, who had a summer romance.Shabnam was an okay character, although I didn’t like the way she made up a story about her great-uncle and his experiences during Partition. I also thought it was a little silly of her to let something like a headscarf come between her and her best friend, surely she should have just accepted her friend for who she was regardless of whether she was Muslim or wore a hijab?The storyline in this was about Shabnam meeting a boy called Jamie over the summer before going to university, and falling in love. There was some Urdu poetry involved, and a storyline about how Shabnam had fallen out with her best friend because she chose to wear a hijab, but mostly it was about Shabnam falling for Jamie, and Jamie not telling her that he loved her back. I did appreciate the friendship between Shabnam and Farah when it was back on though, and it was interesting to read a book with a Pakistani-American main character.The ending to this was alright, although it wasn’t exactly a happily ever after. 6.25 out of 10

  • Haniya (Voracious Bookling)
    2018-08-14 20:38

    New Edit: I might delete this review cause I'm sick of all the comments! No offence to anyone! 😩 I have become so scared to post my opinions now! :( New Edit: My mention about Prophet's Balls wasn't accurate! I'm so sorry! Farah and Shabnam just say jokingly a hadith (which doesn't exist btw) about Prophet telling to kick someone in the balls if they hurt your bestie. Thanks to Abeer for pointing out the mistake! :) So sorry I interpreted these lines wrongly. I was just so overwhelmed by Farah's character.P.S: Other than this part, I still strongly standby with my whole review! Original Post: (Along with shots of problematic pages)NOTE: THIS IS A NEGATIVE REVIEW OF THIS BOOK AND DO NOT LEAVE ANY HATE COMMENTS PLEASE IF YOU REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK! THIS IS MY OPINION AND I HAVE A RIGHT TO SHARE MY VIEWS.This book revolves around Shabnam, a Muslim girl whose mom is a practising Muslim and idk what her dad is, he's either an atheist or a Muslim. She has a best friend, Farah, whose a kind-ish practising Muslim. And then we have the cutest character, Chotay Dada, who faced great struggles during the migration of Pakistanis!Now on to what I found problematic, the first thing is that I'm a Muslim and whenever I see wrong kind-ish stuff in books revolving around Muslims, it triggers me. Shabnam is a Muslim but her life isn't totally Muslim like, it's like she kisses random guys, lets guys touch her and has no issues whatsoever with losing her virginity (Its prohibited in Islam to date guys or kiss them or loose your virginity without nikkah). Her friend Farah wears Hijab, prays and fasts (which I loved) but she does drugs like ummm what?!!? There was not a single proper Muslim character other than Chotay Dada. His character is legit so good! Her father is so confusing, one time he goes like Qur'an should be changed as people are evolving and the other time he's like Allah is the best (Dude you're an adult you have a daughter, stop being confused and choose what you want to follow). There's also a usage of fabricated hadith and the denial of a Hadith by Farah! It's okay if Farah is a feminist but she can't deny what has been said by our prophet (SAW) as she's herself a Muslim. Her relationship with the white boy was also questionable making the book totally non Muslim. It would have been great if the guy was a Muslim!Please I don't want any hate comments! This is just my opinion and I had to share it! The writing skills of the author is amazing but I just couldn't get my head around the plot! It's totally your choice if you want to read it! You might love it but it might be triggering for some Muslims! 

  • Lisa
    2018-07-30 13:57

    I enjoyed this one! It was a quick read that boiled down to: growing up. Shabnam is a wonderfully flawed character. I appreciated getting a closer look at Pakistani culture and Muslim background. A contemporary to add to your TBR for sure.

  • Jen Ryland
    2018-07-28 19:59

    Loved this one so much! Ah, that amazing feeling when you start a book and just click instantly with the narrator. I fell so in love with Shabnam's curious, snarky, sometimes politically incorrect take on life.This book takes place during the end of Shabnam's senior year and the summer between high school and college. Shabnam's stuck at home with her parents, forced to escort her visiting great-uncle to the Apple store for fun. When she's offered a job at a pie shack, she jumps at it, and develops a crush on her cute co-worker, a college student.Shabnam is Muslim and a first generation Pakistani-American. She's puzzled by her parents' marriage (ha- who isn't?) finding it hard to reconcile her mathematician father's detached absentmindedness with his preoccupation with Urdu ghazals (a structured yet ardent love poem). When she's called on in class when the class is discovering the Partition of India in 1947 (creating two separate nations, India and Pakistan) she impulsively makes up a huge lie about her family's experiences at the time. Shabnam has also drifted apart from her former best friend, Farah. When Farah started wearing hijab, Shabnam didn't understand how her fiercely independent, feminist friend could adopt what she saw as an oppressive custom. The story follows Shabnam's romance with Jamie and traces the ups and downs of her relationship with Farah. I just love books like this, books that teach me about a culture I'm not familiar with, but also remind me that we all have so much in common -- embarrassing parents, friendship troubles, dreams and insecurities about love. Highly recommend this to readers who love irreverent narrators and coming of age stories, and interesting portrayals of female friendship. Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin The FTC would like you to know that the publisher provided me a free advance copy of this book, that free books can be enjoyable or not, and other readers may disagree with my opinion.

  • Karla Mae (Reads and Thoughts)
    2018-08-16 14:58

    *ARC Kindly provided by HarperTeen thru Edelweiss*It is rare to find a book with a Muslim lead-character. So I always get excited whenever I encounter one and read it. The Thing We Call a Heart might be the 3rd Muslim book that I’ve read and I’m happy and excited to be given a copy for a review. *wink*“I had a simple plan. Get through the summer. Go to Penn. Begin anew. Don’t look back.”Just like it is being rare to find a book with a Muslim lead-character it is also rare for me to find a book that I consider to be totally character-driven and reading The Thing We Calla Heart is one of those rare times.Shabnam is a complex character. I had a hard time gauging who she really is I begin the story. She’s awkward, self-conscious but intelligent. She came off self-centered for me on most parts of the book and she frustrates the crap out of me most of the time as well but I still liked her – she’s flawed and she’s real.Farah is Shabnam’s best friend and I like her just as much as I like Shabnam. They did have a bit of a fall-out in the beginning of the story after Farah started wearing a jihab without telling Shabnam but they did manage to work things out between them.Of course, a love interest paved its way as well into the story into the form of a non-Muslim boy who’s very interested into the Muslim culture named Jamie. I never actually liked Jamie. I’m skeptical about his character from the beginning but it seems to fade whenever he makes or feel Shbnam special but nonetheless all throughout the story, I never liked him.To say I’m surprised how Shabnam and Jamie’s story went is a complete understatement. I’m not going to go into details on what happened between these two but for me, the right thing happened because it opened a lot more for Shabnam.It never gets old learning about the Muslim culture and history. I enjoyed reading about Urdu Poetry and learning about The Partition.I love how different the Shabnam I met at the beginning of the story to the Shabnam on the last page of this book. Overall, this story is all about growing up. Figuring what you wanted in life and trying to understand life itself.“Though sorrow is life destroying, we cannot escape it, as we have a heart.”*For more reviews, please feel free to visit Reads and  Thoughts*

  • Lauren ✨ (YABookers)
    2018-08-12 19:41

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.Shabnam is a Pakistani-American teen, just finishing up high school when her friendship with her feisty BFF Farah begins to unravel when Farah starts to wear a headscarf without consulting Shabnam. Shabnam starts to make some kind of bad decisions - from kissing the most racist boy in school to telling a huge lie about her family and the partition of India. The end of her school year is really starting to suck; but now Shabnam needs to get through the summer before college. Things start looking up when she meets the charming and romantic Jamie who gets her a job at his Aunt's pie shack for the summer. Shabnam starts discovering her first love, Urdu poetry, and begins to repair her friendship with Farah - and with Farah's help, Shabnam discovers the truth about Jamie, and in turn, learns about the important of friendship and love in all it's forms. I really loved That Thing We Call A Heart. It deals with so many issues but it's done so seamlessly. It's about love and friendship, heartbreak, family, Urdu poetry, and forgotten history. Not to mention the characters are so well developed. I loved our protagonist Shabnam, and I especially loved Farah - our badass, hijab wearing, feminist BFF. Whilst romance is pretty big chunk of the book, That Thing We Call A Heart is definitely a book that explores love between friends and family. I loved her friendship with Farah. At times, Shabnam is a bad friend - she's selfish, and not exactly a good listener. When her best friend Farah starts wearing a headscarf, Shabnam is not exactly understanding; subconsciously, she starts to distance herself from Farah. I absoloutely adored Farah - she's empowering, feminist, funny, feisty and I would absolutely read a book dedicated solely to her. Thankfully, as the book progresses, Shabnam develops and repairs her relationship with Farah and realises how selfish she was being.Additionally, I adored her relationship with her parents. I loved her affectionate and caring mother, and I even enjoyed her passionate, yet lazy, father. I especially loved how Shabnam and her father connected over their love of Urdu poetry - it was definitely a lovely addition. I'm a sucker for loving and supporting familial relationships so this book is everything I look for in contemporary YA. And last but not least, there's lots of talk of what it's like to be a contemporary Muslim girl, defying conventional stereotypes, what's it's like to be a hijab-wearing Muslim girl and how that doesn't necessarily = good Muslim girl. "I'm too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims. And the weird thing is, I realized I've been trying to prove to people that I'm cool, that yeah, I don't drink and whatever but I'm smart and funny and extremely un-oppressed, but I wonder, at the end of the day, will they secretly think a girl in hijab can never be that cool simply because she wears hijab? But then I think, why does it matter what they think of me? I refuse to spend my life proving myself, not to the Muslims, not to the non-Muslims. I'm going to wear a headscarf and I'm going to pray and fast and I'm going to smoke ganja and I'm going to get into Harvard Medical School."There's also discussions on the Partition of India and the Bosnian Genocide, two often forgotten parts of history.This book is a real gem. It tackles so many important relevant issues and I think it's messages about love and identity will resonate with a lot of readers.

  • Hayatun Nafysa
    2018-07-30 14:56

    Overdue review of this book: This book is about Shabnam, a Pakistani girl who’s born and raised in the US. This book starts with her relationship with her feisty Muslimah best friend, Farah, strained, and as the story goes, we get to see Shabnam’s romance, which we get to pluck morale lesson from, and how Shabnam mends her friendship.This book is wonderful because it talks about Islam, Sufism, and Urdu poetry, which the last two I didn’t know much about until I read this book (I find both beautiful, by the way, and would love to get into them more!). Part of the reasons why it’s wonderful is also because ISTRONGLY RELATEto not just Shabnam, but Farah too, as a Muslimah. Farah and I have similar views, including that of herself as a Muslimah, how Islam perceives women, and feminism. ”I’m too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims”. And from what I infer, Shabnam, despite having Muslim parents, is not too practicing because you can see that she worries about people’s judgments and even display fears, if she ever displays her Islamic roots, which I can relate to as well having lived in a Western country, where Islamophobia is sometimes institutionalized. I learn from this book that ultimately no two Muslims are the same, and even if you choose to dress like a goth with your Hijab, even if you choose to drink alcohol, or smoke weed, you’re still a Muslim, and that it should be your private business with God. Shabnam is also so unapologetically a teenager, and that is perfectly captured and written in this book. She longs for a new beginning after high school ends, she lives her life as a teenager, she explores her prospect of summer romance and sexuality, she thinks her parents can be uncool sometimes but later we also get to see how things work themselves around and how her relationship with her parents get to be closer over the summer.To sum up, this book is a very refreshing read. For non-muslim readers, it might enlighten you to the different kinds of Muslims there are, and more than just a story about teenage’s first love, it explores the importance of friendship and family. 4 out of 5 stars.

  • Erika
    2018-08-16 22:02

    This review and more can be found on Living for the BooksI was really excited about this book mainly because a lot of the books I read are really lacking in diversity. I really wanted to love this book and there were some parts that I did, but the main character kind of killed some of my enjoyment. I was not really a fan of Shabnam throughout the book, until maybe the very end, but even then I still didn't really like her as a character. She was selfish and way too obsessed with a boy that she barely knew. She falls in love with Jaime in a very short amount of time and that really put me off from the romance. She was also a terrible best friend and at least she acknowledges this to an extent. The first thing she says to Farah when they start talking again is that she's in love. Not "I'm sorry I abandoned you" or even "how are you?". I really enjoyed the fact that Farah voiced my same thoughts when they talked about their falling out.Shabnam also took it upon herself to scrutinize her parents marriage/romance/sex life and I just found this weird. She had been "in love" for maybe a month so what gave her the authority to say that they weren't happy or in a loving marriage? It seems that she was comparing her relationship with Jaime to her parents', but those aren't really two comparable relationships. I didn't like her father as a character, he just didn't seem to work very well and I guess that was the point, but honestly I didn't really see the point of him behaving that way. Thankfully, Shabnam didn't ruin the book for me. I absolutely loved Farah and honestly wished that she was the main character. I thought that her self discovery and journey to figure out where she fit in as a Muslim was so much more interesting than Jaime and Shabnam's relationship. She was a badass feminist and so much of what she said was so important. I also enjoyed the incorporation of poetry throughout the book. It was interesting and unique, especially because I had never encountered that type of poetry before. I also enjoyed the difference between Shabnam and Farah's experiences as Muslims. They both have such a different relationship with their own culture and I thought that portraying that was really important, especially Farah's experience. The book showed a lot of promise, especially with the side characters. I think that it's something important for people to read, even if it might not have the best main character. *I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

  • Caitlin Christensen
    2018-07-17 20:48

    This was one of those books that builds up slowly and gets under your skin. It's about discovering the layers of history that make up each of our history. Shabnam is an independent (read: stubborn) Pakistani-American teenager trying to navigate high school without making too many waves. But when her best friend starts wearing the headscarf out of the blue it makes her feel as though her entire life isn't what she thought it was. Throw a handsome college boy visiting from out of town, a pie shack, Urdu poetry, and a HUGE lie about a major world tragedy and you've got a recipe for a seriously interesting summer. I like how frank this novel was - Shabnam is very self-centered (aren't we all in high school?) and she makes a lot of dumb choices. She jumps into things without fully thinking them through and gets very caught up in what other people think of her. She's embarrased to be seen with her Uncle because he wears traditional clothing and she doesn't want to be judged when people see them together. But then she starts dating someone who is obsessed with her heritage - he wants to hear all the Urdu poetry she learns from her dad, and is intensely interested in hearing about partition and how it "affected" her family. What's a girl going to do but lie and make up a compelling story about how her family was hit hard during partition? Throughout the novel Shabnam discovers so much about herself, her history, her family, and her friends, and it's that journey of self-discovery that makes this such a compelling read. Favorite quote: "I'm too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims... but then I think, why does it matter what they think of me? I refuse to spend my life proving myself... I'm going to wear a headscarf and I'm going to pray and fast and I'm going to smoke ganja and I'm going to get into Harvard Medical School."

  • Allison
    2018-07-30 15:04

    Really loved this! Great dynamic between Farah and Shabnam. Longer RTC.

  • Prabh⚔
    2018-07-18 17:57

    this was such an important story and EVERYONE should read it. (especially if you are Indian or Pakistani)idek but the romance fell so frikking flat since summer flings = so not my thingat this point in time review probably never gonna come wow

  • Shenwei
    2018-08-02 19:05

    loved the friendship and family dynamics explored in this book, and also the incorporation of Urdu poetry. was not a fan of the romance but that was kind of hinted at in the description so it is what it is. wished there was more about Farah bc she seems like such an interesting person

  • Rachel Marie
    2018-07-29 17:39

    I wanted so bad to love this one, but 1/3-ish of the way through I was skimming so hard I decided just to call it quits. I might try to come back to this one at some point.

  • Rashika (is tired)
    2018-07-29 13:51

    ***This review has also been posted on Xpresso ReadsSometimes there are books you read and you love and then sometimes there are books you read and FUCKING LOVE. As you might be able to gather given my subtle opening line, That Thing We Call a Heart falls into the latter category for me.I honestly don't even know how to express all the love I feel for the book into this review because I doubt that is even possible. Or I could use words but as I told my prof the other day when he suggested I do a creative writing project, I am not a writer so if this review is completely incoherent, know that I honestly tried.That Thing We Call a Heart is a book that needs to be in the hands of every teen. It is an amazing coming of age novel that places us in the life of Shabnam, the daughter of two Pakistani immigrants. This novel explores both religion and culture and the complicated relationship first gen children might have to these things. Shabnam doesn't necessarily identify as muslim and isn't sure how to react when her friend Farah starts wearing a hijab. There relationship becomes incredibly complicated and over the course of the summer, Shabnam needs to find a way to fix her friendship with her best friend and to better understand Islam and her cultural heritage.I think part of the charm of this book is that Shabnam is a complicated human who has clearly internalized some terrible shit she needs to assess. She is far from perfect but there is always a learning curve with growing up as you realize that sometimes, you're just dead wrong. Even if you think you know all the things you could possibly know (spoiler alert, you don't.)But anyway, my point is that Shabnam is a complicated, self centered teen with complex relationships we get to see unfold over the course of the book. She has a fling with a cute-ish boy. Re-connects with her parents and sees them as more than just mom and dad. She gets to know her friend Farah in a way she hasn't before and everything is great. Kind of anyway because nothing is ever perfect.My fav thing about this book is though that it talks about the India/Pakistan partition which is SO IMPORTANT to me and honestly I had so many feels. No one really talks about such an important part of history (and one my family was impacted by!!!!) so it was really great to see it come up in YA but also not told by a white person (I know at least one YA partition book exists but it was written by a white author so I wasn't entirely sure I would feel safe reading it.)And if none of this has you riled up for this book, there is always the food porn that might appeal to you. Everyone loves food porn right????? I hope so.SO. PLEASE JUST BUY AND READ AND LOVE THIS BOOK. It is 110% worthy of your attention and honestly needs so much more hype. Also, The Thing We Call a Heart is a total summer read and it ~is~ summer *wink wink**nudge nudge*Note that I received an advanced copy of this book for review.

  • Maryam
    2018-08-05 19:57

    It was a really enjoyable read, I liked it. I wish it was like 200 pages longer though, it was a bit short and ended too suddenly and conveniently. Shabnam is such a dislikeable character lmao, she was horrible to Farah I wish there was a bigger emphasis on her relationship with Farah like what she did was disgusting and would've taken more than just a 20min talk over donuts to fix you know? I feel like Jamie's character fell a bit flat too, I wish his character was a bit more fleshed out because he just felt like a pitstop for Shabnam to #grow in:) i make no sense but his character just felt like a oh he's here so Shabnam can go through x and y and say z about it (which is really the point to everything in a story I Am Aware but would help if it wasn't so transparent).Anyways, I did enjoy it the writing was good and the story was beautifully easy to read. I'm interested in picking up more of Sheba Karim's work and also the poetry book she recommended at the back.

  • Sana
    2018-08-01 15:00

    I really enjoyed this! Likes-Cute and heartwarming contemporary -Pakistani-American mc who is a non religious girl of Muslim background -Pakistani-American Muslim Hijabi best friend character who considers herself a punk.-A lot about diverse viewpoints within the Muslim community (as in nontraditional, traditional and in between) -Discusses different views on feminism and how different Muslim women approach it-Lots of cultural references-Really funny at times -Female friendship as a focus rather than romance-Family dynamics-MC has nice development throughout the novel -There's a donut shop in this book (idk I like when bakeries and restaurants are featured in contemporaries)-This is an ownvoices novel as the author is Muslim American (I'm unsure if she's Pakistani or not though can someone inform me if they know?) -Seriously a Muslim girl character exists in ya lit who wears blue lipstick and swears a lot and listens to punk music and is a proud feminist and is also really strong in her faith and that is just absolutely amazing to me Dislikes -The writing overall isn't super impressive (not bad by any means, just nothing special except for a few memorable lines) -There are instances when the mc is very annoying and immature, mostly earlier on in the book because like I said she does develop. I think they're realistic annoying traits for a teen girl to have so it's not really a huge literary critique just something that grated on my enjoyment. -We never really see Farah's mother? Which bothered me because she's considered the example of a traditional Muslim woman drawn upon to show that pov as valid, and I think the book succeeds in displaying those themes. But it could have been an even more impactful and well rounded story had a younger girl who was more central to the plot illustrated it. But I also feel like since that side to Islam is already better known focusing on the "Muslim misfits" more was more necessary and overall that was more something that could make it better than something that was lacking. Other notes -There are a couple problematic instances in this book, mostly related to Shabnam's internal monologue on certain things related to Islam, hijabism and being religious in general. She isn't sure about a lot of things (even if she wants to identify as a Muslim). I do think some of those things were in part intentional and on one hand I respect how realistic it is (I think most muslim girls living on America at some point have similar thoughts and there was enough contrast with Farrah's faith and Farrah's mothers faith plus Shubnah's grandfather and it was overall not a huge thing for me but I know some people could find it more harmful so I thought I'd mention it.

  • Sam Kozbial
    2018-07-20 14:03

    Shabnam was preparing to close the high school chapter of her life, just as "fate" brought Jamie into her world. This charming boy swept her off her feet, and she felt like she was simultaneously in the best and worst place of her life. Best, because she was falling in love. Worst, because she missed her best friend, Farah, who she had a falling out with. She hoped to both repair this friendship and give her heart to someone she thought was worthy.These are the type of diverse reads that I love. I have starting calling them "bridge books", because I believe they do such a good job of letting people of other faiths/cultures gain a little insight into another person's faith/culture. I was reading a review by Jen of YA Romantics, and she nailed what I think is so perfect about a book like this: while teaching us about differences, it also reminds us how we are the same. This has been my battle cry for so long, and I am elated to see so many books lately, that are doing this so well.I instantly took a liking to Shabnam. She was not great at editing her stream of consciousness, and some really amusing and honest things often came out. But it was ok, because she was growing and changing, and this was all part of her process. I was glad she went through this process, because in the beginning of the book, I was sort of disappointed in her. I thought she really under appreciated her parents, was insensitive to Farah's big life change, and made too much of an effort to impress people who should not have even mattered. But by the end of the book, I was so proud of all the work she did to mend her relationship with Farah, to build a relationship with her parents, and to get to know her roots a little better."You're Muslim?""My mother is," I told her. "What's your dad?""Weird." She snorted. "And what about you?" "Me? I'm...nothing.""You can't be nothing. At minimum, you're a Homo sapiens."The rift between Shabnam and Farah grew from Farah deciding to be a hijabi. Her choice to wear the scarf, and outwardly declare herself a Muslim made Shabnam uncomfortable. This whole storyline made me sad, because although I thought Shabnam should not be ashamed of being seen with Farah, I knew there was a whole lot of truth to her concerns, and that just made me ashamed of society."I knew a piece of cloth should't make a difference, that she was still the same person underneath, but it did make a difference."One aspect of this book, which I really loved, was the inclusion of Urdu poetry. Shabnam originally began asking her father about the poetry as a way to impress Jamie, but over time, it became a way for her to connect to her father. It was beautiful to see the relationship between Shabnam and her socially awkward mathematician father grow. Karim thoughtfully wove the poetry into the story, and each line selected was beautiful and meaningful within Shabnam's story."I felt like a different person than when he'd first visited. Broken, but determined to put myself back together, hopefully into something stronger."This was a lovely and often amusing story about first love, first heartbreak, family, friendships, and finding oneself. I throughly enjoyed this book, and hope to read more of Karim's work.**I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication. BLOG|INSTAGRAM|BLOGLOVIN| FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  • Abeer Hoque
    2018-08-02 17:02

    “What do you have to lose? My pride, for one. And that thing we call a heart.”That Thing We Call a Heart is Sheba Karim’s long awaited second YA novel. Her first, Skunk Girl, was the first time I had seen a (sweet spunky) South Asian American girl in print, and reading it was a joyous experience, and that precious thing for browns in America: resonance. TTWCaH follows in those footsteps, tracing Pakistani American teenager Shabnam Quraishi’s senior year at a poncy private high school in New Jersey. Her best friend, Farah, suddenly dons a hijab. Her great uncle comes to town trailing memories of the violent Partition in 1947, between India and Pakistan. And she falls in love with Jamie, a charming pie selling white boy home from college. I found the interactions between Shabnam and Farah most thought provoking, Shabnam’s agnostic Muslim-ness challenged by Farah’s punk version of Islam. They are both trying to find their footing, a difficult enough thing in a white Christian majority world (let alone the hormonal charge of teenagehood), but also defining what it means to be religious. What’s powerful about this is that neither friend rejects the other’s spiritual standing, wherever it lands, and I love that this variability and questioning exists, especially in this new political climate where nuance and complexity are often sacrificed for black and white soundbites. Shabnam’s parents are a far cry from the strict immigrant parents I am familiar with. Her mother is loving and accepting, and Shabnam seems untroubled by the usual teenage-parent conflicts (letting aside the Desi Muslim bits). It felt a little too easy, but that’s probably just jealousy on my part. I did love how Shabnam’s father, a gruff over-rational (but poetic!) academic Desi dad (so many of us have them!) helps her discover Urdu and Sufi poetry, connecting her to her Pakistani heritage, and to her own beating heart. “What is desire without distance? What is love without longing?” What indeed. TTWCaH is written in Ms. Karim’s trademark breezy style, and I’m looking forward to more.

  • Saajid
    2018-07-16 20:38

    *Spoiler alert*It was kinda revealed that Jamie somewhat had a fetish for brown girls, alt least to me. Either that or he just had an affinity for other cultures in a really sick sort of way. So when he asked Shabnam about what Farah's hair looked like, and Farah eventually said that they were just exotic flavours of the month I could definitely tell that he had a thing for non-white girls. But even more than that he seemed so enamored with other people's cultures and experiences. Think about what he asked Dino and how much he didn't seem to care about how inappropriate it was. Think about how much he was obsessed with the Urdu poetry. It's almost like he was collecting memories and knowledge as 'souvenirs' which makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. There was a HUGE hint to this somewhere in the middle of the book when Shabnam goes to visit Jamie at Aunt Marianne's house and she noticed all of the foreign and exotic items used as decoration. Jamie explained to her that this was because his aunt had a whole bunch of boyfriends, who gifted her things from their cultures. So this fetishization that Jamie exhibited was kind of the same thing that his aunt was doing. I feel like there is a deeper conversation in here, about how some white people steal from or use other cultures to fulfill their own desires and interests. Maybe I'm reading too deep? Let me know what you all think!

  • Kelly
    2018-07-26 17:51

    This started out a little rocky, but it eventually grew to be a book I didn't want to put down. It's a story about friendship and family, about a relationship that was about cultural fetishization, and about how important supportive and nurturing relationships work. Farah, the best friend in this story, is exceptional. I wish we saw her more, but I almost think that this story not being about her made her so powerful. Her fierceness and boldness really help Shabnam find her footing.

  • Meagan
    2018-07-18 22:02

    SOME MANY INCREDIBLE THINGS!!!!! ♡Diversity ✓Character Development ✓Urdu Poetry ✓Arabic Language ✓Muslim Traditions ✓BADASS FEMINIST BEST FRIEND ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓Farah is by far one of my all time favorite characters! She is confident in who she is and doesn't let anyone try to change her. Farah's feminism pride sails and glows! She's such an asset to her best friend and the story's main character Shabnam. Shabnam is still trying to find herself and truly accept who she is without caring what others think. Her journey throughout this story is so realistic to read. Her relationships are what have built her to be who she is by the end of the story. Relationships are done so well in this book too! Romantic relationships, friendships, parental relationships. Sheba Karim explores all of the intricacies of relationships on a deep level while providing readers with Muslim culture and a great girl-girl friendship! I learned SOOOOOOO much about Muslim culture and traditions, and I am deeply appreciative to Karim for sharing her culture with us. Absolutely stinking beautiful writing as well! 5 out of 5 stars!!! ♡ ♡ ♡

  • Jacquelyn
    2018-08-16 13:56

    Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

  • Rich in Color
    2018-08-11 21:39

    After hearing so many great things about Karim’s new novel I was really looking forward to it. It was #ownvoices and had numerous Muslim characters in a contemporary romance, which is sorely needed in the world of YA literature. Unfortunately, I came away with a “meh” kind of feeling with this book. It took me a long while to get into it and connect with the main character Shabnam Qureshi. There was something about her that I just didn’t like. Some of her comments really rubbed me the wrong way, specifically about her weight, which I felt could be triggering to folks. Additionally, she was a little too crazy over Jaime, which is what I just realized I didn’t like about her. When I was in high school, boy-crazy girls drove me batty and that is why I didn’t connect with Shabnam. She is a character of contradictions, however, because even though she is very selfish, she does work to understand her father and help him to become a more active participant in their relationship and the relationship with her mother. The father-daughter moments in the novel were truly sweet and moving.I feel like the “romance” of the novel was less about Jaime and Shabnam and more about the relationship between Shabnam and Farah. At the beginning of the novel the two are estranged from each other with Shabnam missing her best friend terribly. And I can see why as Farah seems to be Shabnam’s total opposite. Where Shabnam is unsure of herself, Farah is confidence personified. Where Shabnam hesitates to speak her mind, Farah doesn’t hold back. Their home lives are opposites as well as Shabnam is an only child whose parents are in a somewhat happy marriage where as Farah is the oldest of four (If I remember correctly) and her parents are constantly at odds. Even though the novel begins with Shabnam and Farah apart from each other, we are given flashbacks of how their friendship developed. These were two girls who connected over not fitting in, even though they were so different, and ended up dependent upon each other. And that desire for her best friend is why Shabnam chose to re-connected with Farah; she wanted to share her happiness about Jamie. I felt Shabnam was quite selfish for only going to her friend then, but ultimately the girls have a heart to heart and get to the bottom of why their friendship fell apart. It was a moving moment and one that I loved because after Shabnam’s time at the pie shack is over, there are an number of pages left to the book and most focus on Shabnam and Farah rekindling their friendship. Shabnam’s character development is due to her coming to accept Farah for who she is now and that even though her best friend is wearing a hajib, she is still the same complex being before she decided to wear the hajib. Shabnam learns to love her friend for who she is and comes to truly appreciate her relationship with Farah.The touching relationships Shabnam had with her father and Farah, however, were not enough to make me fall in love with this book. I felt that Jaime was extremely two dimensional, almost a stereotype of the carefree white boy who visits and works with his aunt during the summer. I truly did not see what Shabnam saw that made her fall head over heels in love with him. I didn’t feel any heat or passion that I should expect from a contemporary romance. Jaime and Shabnam’s romance was just kind of blah. There was no rooting for their HEA; in fact, I was waiting for them to break up because that meant that Jaime would be off the page. Clearly, the opposite reaction a romance novel is aiming for. Though, if the point of the romance was the friendship between Shabnam and Farah, then mission accomplished.

  • Jane
    2018-08-13 13:40

    I had the same issues with this novel as I had with Some Boys by Patty Blount. She tried to tackle a lot of different things but it became too Glee-ish in how it tried to deliver those messages.To start, the main character is pretty unlikable. She felt more like 16 than 18, but teenagers can be ridiculously immature, etc. BUT. I wasn't able to empathize with her throughout most of the book, especially when she fought with her mother. That's more of where I have an issue with a character being unlikable. Like, I don't support people framing their spouses for murder, but I still really loved being inside Amy Dunne's head in Gone Girl. Almost every character felt too one-dimensional, except Aunt Marianne and Farah. If this book had been from Farah's perspective, it would have been much more interesting. The romance felt very extra and unnecessary, but the ending was surprising. My main issue is with the writing. Unlikable character, lots of subplots, etc, could all work if the writing is REALLY GOOD. But it just wasn't. The second part of the book begins with an incredibly long exposition about how Shabnam and Farah's friendship dissolved. Outside of that being much more interesting than Jamie, it was poorly executed because it was all tell and not showing. And it's not a super long book, so a lot of the character and plot development suffered for it. Using genocide as inspiration-porn and trying to look cool was REALLY interesting but it was shoved to the side in favor of romanticizing Jamie. It's a really interesting concept, how people excuse those they admire for bad behavior (see: the news), and this made a really brilliant contrast to the tension between Shabnam and Farah. It's addressed, but not as strongly or consistently as I would have liked. (The way Mindy McGinnis or M. E. Girard confront internalized misogyny and rape-culture in their YA is my mental litmus test.) Shabnam does get called out in the end for a lot of her disrespectfulness towards her parents, Farah, and her extended family, but not until the very end of the book. Putting it off so long gives the reader very little pay-off. But, it IS there, at least.As disappointed as I am in the book, I'm glad I read it. It's important to have more diverse protagonists and stories. There's plenty of shittier books with white protagonists, just like there's plenty of shit superhero movies with male leads that keep being made. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Angelee B
    2018-07-18 19:51

    Okay, these stars are for two things and two things only: Farah, and Urdu poetry.Shabnam is one of my least favorite characters I have read. She's very selfish and acts like a spoiled child. For someone who has just graduated high school, she sure is immature. The first guy who's nice ot her and within twelve days-yes, TWELVE DAYS-she thinks she's in love with him. I'll admit, Jamie was cute and fun, but you can't fall in love with someone you hardly know. A summer fling is fine, that's cool, but Shabnam didn't know his history, what his goals in life were, or anything about his family.Farah was the best damn character in this book. She wasn't afraid to be herself and stick up for her beliefs. When she decides to wear hijab, all the kids in school treat her like a threat. Shabnam was supposed to be Farah's best friend, but when Farah started wearing hijab, Shabnam backed off and abandoned her to the wolves, all because she didn't want to be associated with a proud Muslim.As soon as Shabnam thought she fell in love with Jamie, after twelve-motherfuckin’ days-she went straight to Farah, the friend she abandoned and has ignored for a while, and gushes about her new feelings for Jamie. No, she doesn’t apologize for dumping Farah when she needed her most. No, she doesn’t ask how Farah has been. No, she doesn’t not give two shits about Farah; all she wanted was to have someone to gush to about Jamie.That is a terrible friendship. For that, I now dub Shabnam one of the WORST characters I have read from. Yes, The top worst. I’m sorry Farah couldn’t have a better friend. She deserved so much better. Even at the end when we learn Jamie tried kissing Farah behind Shabnam’s back, and Shabnam FINALLY fuckin’ apologizes to Farah for hurting her, I still hate her. She is a terrible person and I would love to elbow her in the taco (yes, it’s possible).

  • Stacee
    2018-07-20 13:38

    3.5 starsThe title caught my eye and I liked the premise, so I downloaded this on a whim. I really liked Shabnam. Yes, she's a bit dramatic, but I enjoyed reading her reactions to things and seeing how she navigated her world. I did find myself making faces at my kindle at parts because at times, her inner monologue is absolutely ridiculous. Farah is sort of a bad ass and I loved that she stood up for what she wanted. As for Jamie, I have mixed feelings, but I'll leave that for people to figure out on their own. I also really enjoyed the culture and history that was present in the story. I will admit that I don't know a lot about the Muslim faith or wearing hijab and I appreciated getting details on those aspects of the characters. Overall, it was quick and cute read. I loved the ending and will definitely be looking into future titles by this author. **Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**

  • Abriana
    2018-07-17 19:07

    "It was unusual to see a man like Chotay Dada in our neighborhood, and whenever someone passed us, I made sure to smile and say hello, so they wouldn’t perceive us as a threat."Didn't love this one. Pros: - Farrah and everything she brought to the table.- Dino, precious man. Cons: - Literally everything about Jamie- what a BRAT Shabnam is- all the Radiohead references, I get it. - weird pacing - uncomfortable dialogue in general You can read my full review here: