Bestest. Ramadan. Ever., by Medeia Sharif, was published in 2011.
(I love the title of this book, by the way. It makes me smile every time I say it. It’s cute, and it gives you a very good idea what this Young Adult novel will be about.)
Almira Abdul is a 15-year-old girl, living in Florida. She doesn’t think she’s pretty. She thinks she’s overweight.
It’s the start of her second Ramadan. (She got caught eating some cookies during her first Ramadan. Her parents were disappointed, but not angry.) Her parents are “halfway religious”. Her grandparents “follow Islam to a tee”, although Grandma started wearing a head scarf only about a year ago.
Almira is the only Muslim in her mostly-Hispanic school. Her dad’s family is Syrian, and her mother’s family is Iranian, so she looks like her classmates, and yet she’s different.
Almira has a crush on a cute boy, named Peter. Almira’s best friend, Lisa Gomez, likes Peter, too, and is unaware of Almira’s feelings toward him. Almira’s parents think Almira is too young to date, and are keeping a close watch on her. Granddad would love to arrange a traditional marriage for Almira, when she’d old enough.
A new girl transfers to Almira’s school. Her name is Shakira Malik. She is Muslim, and is fasting for Ramadan, so she could be a good friend for Almira – except that Shakira is gorgeous, flirty, wears super-short skirts, and attracts the attention of all the boys (including Peter). Shakira is also a snob, constantly putting Almira down with cutting remarks.
There is also a mystery. Someone is leaving chocolate kisses on Almira’s stool in science class. Is it a secret admirer? Or is it a secret enemy, trying to ruin her fast?
As the title suggests, everything leads to a happy ending. Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. is a positive book. There are plenty of conflicts, and a lot of drama – jealousy, generational differences, misunderstandings, driving lessons, and braces – but it’s all just the realities of a teenage life. There is a lot going on in this book.
Almira Abdul is a good person, and a good student. She tries to do the right things, but she’s young and inexperienced, and she doesn’t always make the right decisions.
(This is nothing against All the Bright Places, but after reading about depression and suicide, I really needed an uplifting story, and Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. gave that to me.)
Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. is also about the difficulties of fasting: the hunger, the tiredness, the grumpiness, the temptation, the wolfing down food after sundown, and the worrying about bad breath (no Tic Tacs!) – as well as the positive lessons it teaches (patience, focus, strength, and so on).
I enjoyed Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.
- A book set around a holiday other than Christmas