Lumbard, Rablah York. “No True Believers”, Crown Books for Young Readers, 2020.
Islamophobia and White Supremacy
In her novel, “No True Believers”, Rablah York Lubbard explores the intersection of Islamophobia and white supremacy. She writes about Salma Bakkioui, an American Muslim teen who is forced to confront hatred and hidden danger when she is framed for a terrorist act she did not commit.
Salma has always loved living in her suburban cul-de-sac especially because her best friend Mariam lives next door, and her boyfriend Amir lives nearby. But things start to change and friends start to distance themselves. Mariam’s family moves when her father’s patients no longer want a Muslim chiropractor. Salma’s teachers that she once trusted completely now look the other way Salma is threatened at school by hostile students.
After a terrorist bombing nearby, Islamophobia is very evident around Salma and her family. Suddenly, she and Amir find themselves with few friends and allies when they come under suspicion for the bombing. Salma begins investigating who is framing them and learns about a deadly secret conspiracy with ties to her new neighbors but no one believes her. Salma knows that she must use her talent for coding, wits, and faith to show the truth and protect her home before it’s too late.
It is hard for most of us to imagine what this young girl has to deal with as we have never really questioned our safety in this country. What we really see here is the power of one’s community and how hate brings forward unfounded lies. We see what it is to be a white Muslim in this country and the issues of prejudice, racism and xenophobia that comes with it.
There is also humor here so it is not a totally dismal read. This is also about teens with raging hormones, drama of the high school type and a young woman’s coming-of-age story. The external realities of life clash with the internal realities of family, race and faith. We see how ideas are distorted and how history and religion ae taken out of context to support evil agendas.