Barnes & Noble Signed Editions

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we love ourselves a good book deal. Especially when it means we can save our money to buy even more books.

Today, we wanted to highlight the exclusive signed edition of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao for Barnes & Noble Signed Editions event.

Please note: the exclusive signed edition is only available in person at select Barnes & Noble stores.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out their other deals: they currently have a Buy One, Get One 50% Off promotion and have many other Penguin Random House specialty Black Friday Signed editions.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774883198 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall of China. It doesn’t matter that the girls die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But when she gets her vengeance, it becomes clear that she is an Iron Widow, a rare kind of female pilot who can sacrifice males to power up Chrysalises instead. To tame her frightening yet valuable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest male pilot in Huaxia, yet feared and ostracized for killing his father and brothers. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will take over instead, then leverage their combined strength to force her society to stop failing its women and girls. Or die trying.

P.S. Look at our author hard at work signing all 3000 copies at our warehouse back in September!

Tundra Telegram: Books to Trans-form Your Mood

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we discuss things that are engendering heated conversations on social media and pass along some queerly excellent titles.

This past weekend, November 20, was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed the year prior. Tragically, it was a day of remembrance that was marked by further anti-LGBTQ violence, as news broke early that morning of a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs – a tragedy that would have been much worse, if not for the actions of some heroic patrons at the club.

In the face of such tragedy, we wanted to take a moment to feature books of trans joy – books that celebrate trans lives and experiences, with minimal focus on the hardships and tragedy. (Obviously, we appreciate books that speak to trans sadness and pain, too, but this week, we’re hoping to accentuate the positive.)

PICTURE BOOKS

Let’s start with some picture books that cheerlead trans stories. Calvin by JR and Vanessa Ford, and illustrated by Kayla Harren, celebrates the lead-up to young trans boy’s first day of school, complete with new haircut, new clothes, and . . . a new name. Any hesitance Calvin had introducing his true self to the world melts away as family, friends, and teachers rally around him in a joyful story inspired by the authors’ own child.

Jodie Patterson and Charnelle Pinkney Barlow’s Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope likewise lightly fictionalizes the experiences of the author’s son, as Penelope faces some frustrations and, eventually, real triumphs on his journey to share himself with the world. The main takeaway from the book is that it always makes you stronger when you are true to yourself and who you really are – and that sounds like a message to celebrate!

Can a book only published in 2018 be a classic? We think so, which is why we’ve included classic picture book Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love on this list. A buoyant celebration of self-love and genderfluidity, the story follows young Julián after he notices three women dressed spectacularly on the subway, all on their way to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume. He worries what his abuela will think about how Julián sees himself, but soon realizes he needn’t worry: his abuela just wants to perfect his costume and take him to the parade!

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas is the real-life story of co-author Jazz Jennings, a transgender child who has become a spokesperson for trans kids everywhere. (She’s also, for TLC Fans, the star of a reality show by the very same name!)

Another book based on a true story (and inspired by a documentary), Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale and Mika Song, features a young Hawaiian girl in who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school. Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. So when Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she decides to be part of it in this musical celebration.

There are few things more joyous than a rainbow wig, as any My Little Pony cosplayer can tell you. You can experience that joy yourself with My Rainbow by authors DeShanna and Trinity Neal, and illustrated by Art Twink (who has maybe the best illustrator name of all time?). When young transgender girl Trinity decides she needs long hair, her dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her daughter.

We also recommend Pink, Blue, and You!: Questions for Kids about Gender and Stereotypes from Canadian children’s book artist Elise Gravel and trans activist and educator Mykaell Blais, an easy-to-understand picture book that opens the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and identity. We’ve found the book also has a crossover audience with adults who are trying to learn more, sometimes inspired by the kids and grandkids in their life who are trans or nonbinary.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Okay, so it may not be the definition of trans joy, but Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker is a cyber mystery, and that was fun in The Net! Zenobia is an expert hacker trans girl in a new town and new school. So, when there’s a mystery to be solved around hateful memes being posted anonymously, Zenobia goes full digital Nancy Drew to crack the case and finds a new home in the process.

If cyber detective work doesn’t sound joyful enough, how about gliding through the open water like an otter? Obie Is Man Enough, a book by Schuyler Bailar, competitive swimmer and the first transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division I men’s team, is a coming-of-age story that closely mirrors Bailar’s own experiences in the pool. Transgender tween Obie, after his transition, has to leave his swim coach and pool (there is some bullying in this book), but soon dives into things with a new, more supportive swim team, with support from family and friends – including Charlie, his first crush.

What about a combination coming-of-age transgender and ghost story? That’s what Too Bright To See, the National Book Award finalist by Kyle Lukoff, is. Best friends Moira and Bug spend the summer before middle school investigating a haunting in Bug’s eerie old house while preparing for a new stage of life. For Bug, that preparation – and, in a strange way, the haunting – lead to the revelation they are transgender.

This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby, is an appetizing sampler of stories for middle-graders from all genres. Whether they’re in the mood for contemporary coming-out trans stories or adventures of nonbinary pirates on the high seas, this dazzling anthology has a colorful tale for everyone.

YOUNG ADULT

Few things bring more joy than love and baked goods, which is why we’re recommending A. R. Capetta’s Heartbreak Bakery. Teenage baker Syd (who is agender) sends ripples of heartbreak through the queer community of Austin, Texas, when a batch of post-being-dumped brownies turns out to be magical – and makes everyone who eats them break up their romantic relationships! Syd has a major crush on Harley, the sexy trans delivery messenger, and reading this book is akin to nuzzling underneath a big, magical, queer electric blanket.

But for a touch more magic, there’s Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, a whimsical, dark fantasy about Jam, a transgender girl who befriends a horrifying monster that emerges from one of her mother’s paintings. Jam lives in a utopian society, where trans kids are trusted to know their own bodies and feelings (that’s good), but it’s a creaky utopia that may rely on secrets and deceit (not so good). Still, there’s enough wonder and magic to bring a smile to any reader’s face.

Sports, romance, and courage are the highlights of The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimmons, the story of a trans boy athlete who gets a fresh start at liberal private school – where no one knows he’s trans. Not his soccer coach, and not even the cute, down-low Christian guy he has a crush on. When the soccer league enforces a discriminatory rule, Spencer has two choices – he can keep silent and let discrimination win, or he can reveal the truth about himself and fight for his rights and face the fallout. But Spencer will find that people can always surprise you in good ways.

In the mood for a little romance, but also the adrenaline rush of an argument? Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas has the benefit of not only having a title that’s also a Joni Mitchell song, but also featuring a trans protagonist, Finch, who loves school debates! (Nerd alert!) And this isn’t just any debate Finch is competing in, it’s the Nationals, and Finch has developed a tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner as he is scheduled to debate – in a cruel twist of fate – against transgender rights.

And since we were just talking about sports, let’s hop back into the pool. Man o’War by Cory McCarthy is a frequently comical coming-of-age novel about an Arab American trans swimmer taking the plunge into self-discovery in a very not-coastal Ohio town. We’ll admit, there’s some external (and internal) homophobia and a lot of angst, but it’s also – at times – a real barrel of laughs.

We should also note there is no shortage of books about the dizzying excitement of life as a trans youth published in the Pocket Change Collective series, all illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. As just a sampling, Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon is like a gender-binary-smashing pep talk, giving readers access to the infinite possibilities within themselves. Leo Baker’s Skate For Your Life is the professional skateboarder’s personal journey within the sport as a non-binary athlete and proves that being authentically yourself is truly rad. And Continuum by Chella Man has the deaf and transgender artist, actor, and activist (from Titans) pushes readers to unlearn certain constructs in their lives and set off on a beautiful and chaotic road of exploration.

Cover Reveal: Friends Like These

Tundra is excited to be publishing Friends Like These on May 30, 2023! Acclaimed author Meg Rosoff delivers a gritty novel about a summer of firsts: independence, lies, love, and the loss of innocence.

Cover Design: Kate Sinclair

Friends Like These
By Meg Rosoff
208 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781774881101 | Tundra Book Group
Release Date: May 30, 2023
New York City. Summer 1983. A summer internship in New York was meant to be everything Beth wanted. But from the moment she arrives in the city she feels wrong: wrong hair, terrible clothes, defective smile, too obviously a virgin. Sharing a hot, cockroach-filled apartment with a couple falling out of love completes the dream picture. Then she meets her fellow interns: ambitious out-of-towner Dan, preppy rich boy Oliver, and Edie – a beautiful, brittle, magnetic, instant best friend. Irresistible people are like gravity. You can’t help being pulled towards them – can you?

Also by Meg Rosoff:

The Great Godden
By Meg Rosoff
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268319 | Penguin Teen Canada
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer. . . . In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents, and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers: irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.

Tundra Telegram: Books for a Wakanda Wild Side

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we check out the things that people are vibing (short for vibranium-ing) with on social media and recommend some forever heroic reads.  

This past weekend, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released in theatres across North America. The Marvel superhero film had an opening weekend box office of $180 million, making it the year’s second largest movie opening, and the largest movie opening in November ever. In addition to the financial success, the film is also, reportedly, a hit with critics and a fitting tribute to the late star of the original Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman.

With the release of any new Black Panther movie (yes, we know there have only been two so far), our minds naturally turn to afrofuturism, and the many great books – particularly YA – that combines science-fiction, history, and technology to explore the African diaspora experience. If you’re a fan of T’Challa, Shuri, Okoye, and the entire Black Panther supporting cast, and have been wondered what to read (with the youngsters in your life or by yourself) to hit that same chord, we have a few recommendations for you.

PICTURE BOOKS

It may not surprise you to discover there aren’t that many science fiction picture books. (Why there aren’t is another story. There are so many ones based in fantasy!) But perhaps the most obvious scratch for your afrofuturist itch can be found in the Frank Berrios-authored Little Golden Books Black Panther (illustrated by Patrick Spaziante) and Shuri Is Brave (illustrated by Anthony Conley). The Black Panther and his sister Shuri are each featured defending the technological utopia of Wakanda in these picture books with a fun retro design.

It’s less science fiction than science fact that’s featured in Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, a picture book about an aspiring young astronaut who rouses her community (with a charisma worthy of T’Challa) to take a break from their various distractions and look to the skies for a rare comet appearance. (You can read more Rocket adventures with Rocket Says Clean Up!, but the astronaut stuff seemed more futuristic.)

Finally, STEM enthusiast Ruby does some futuristic things in This Is Ruby by Sara O’Leary and Alea Marley. Ruby is curious about her world, which leads to her inventing things like a time machine and a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it). And illustrator Alea Marley has depicted Ruby growing up in Caribbean, based on her own youth in Barbados.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

A futuristic amusement park in – or rather over – Atlanta? You’ll find it Futureland: Battle for the Park by H. D. Hunter. When an extraordinary flying theme park where you can live out your wildest dreams arrives above Atlanta, it’s up to one boy – Cam Walker, the son of the park’s famous creators – to stop a sinister force from stealing the park’s technology and taking over the world.

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor is the perfect read if you’re looking for more African superheroes with superpowered family legacies. Nnamdi is a twelve-year-old boy whose father was the chief of police in their town in Nigeria until he was killed. But with his death, Nnamdi inherits a magical Ikenga figurine that allows him to transform into a huge and powerful monster, in a superhero origin story steeped in Igbo spiritualism.

Let’s be clear: there’s nothing futuristic or supernatural in Tight by Torrey Maldonado, a realistic and contemporary coming-of-age story. But the lead character Bryan loves reading comics and drawing superheroes – and relies on them and their guidance, in fact, when trying to escape the drama in his life. Especially when that drama is a new friend who might be pressuring him to do things he doesn’t want to. Tight shows how superheroes like Black Panther can lead us all on the right path.

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi is about a kid, Ebony Grace Norfleet, who loves everything science fiction. Her grandfather, who raises her, was one of the first Black engineers at NASA. An ds long as she can remember, Ebony has loved all things Star Trek and Star Wars. When Ebony is sent to live with her father in Harlem, she has trouble finding her place as a lover of all things space, but she finds even the big city can make room for stargazers.

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re looking for a YA novel that manages to be afrofuturist, superheroic, AND have connections to Hollywood, you want Nubia: The Awakening, the first book in a new series by acclaimed actor Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House) and Clarence A. Haynes. The story follows three teens – Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho – the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who must navigate their newfound powers in a climate-ravaged New York City. It’s like X-Men meets Black Panther who team up to tackle class stratification and the climate crisis – who doesn’t want to read that?

Tochi Onyebuchi has been carrying the afrofuturist torch in YA for some time now, and his War Girls (and the follow-up, Rebel Sisters) are must-reads. Onyii and Ify star as two sisters in the futuristic, post-apocalyptic Nigeria of 2172 (where people fight in flying mech suits, which rules) who are willing to fight their way to a better future – but soon find themselves at battle with one another. Like the best afrofuturist fiction, it combines future with history, as Onyebuchi used the Nigerian civil war of the 1960s and 1970s as inspiration.

For a real charcuterie platter of some of the best afrofuturist women authors working in YA today, check out A Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell, and featuring stories from Dhonielle Clayton, Ashley Woodfolk, Alaya Dawn Johnston, and many more. Alternate planets, soucouyants, dystopian future societies – this anthology has something for everyone.

Finally, the name Nnedi Okorafor has come up before – and with good reason: she’s one of the foremost authors of afrofuturist books and comics working today. Binti: The Complete Trilogy collects her Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning series that follows one extraordinary girl’s space journey from her home to distant Oomza University – a journey waylaid by an attack by the jellyfish-like Medusae on Binti’s spaceship. It’s an attack that leaves her the only survivor on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, and an event that leads to Binti herself trying to broker peace between two different species.

Wakanda forever, friends! See you in the (afro)future!

Holiday Spotlight: Puffin Canada and Penguin Teen Canada 2022

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Puffin Canada and Penguin Teen Canada.

Ghostlight
By Kenneth Oppel
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272330 | Puffin Canada
The story of the tragic death of sixteen-year-old Rebecca Strand and her lighthouse keeper father is just an elaborate tale Gabe tells tourists for his summer job on the Toronto Island. Or so he thought. When his ghost tours awaken Rebecca’s spirit, Gabe is drawn into a world far darker than any ghost story he’s ever heard. Rebecca reveals that she and her father were connected to The Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead” – malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But now the Order has disappeared and Viker is growing even stronger, and he’ll stop at nothing to wreak chaos and destruction on the living. Gabe and his friends – both living and dead – must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls.

Green Mountain Academy
By Frances Greenslade
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267848 | Tundra Books
After a family trip turned disastrous when their truck broke down in the middle of an old logging road in Oregon, Francie is now back in British Columbia. People try to make things as “normal” as possible for her, but they don’t understand that trying to be normal in your old life that’s exploded is the worst feeling in the world. Luckily for Francie, the wilderness is still soothing, and an opportunity to attend the Green Mountain Academy, a tiny boarding school perched on the side of a mountain, seems perfect. It’s a new start, with new friends and a chance at a new family. But when a winter storm hits, knocking out all the power, news that a small plane has gone missing unsettles Francie. Knowing that the chance of survival in the middle of a wild nighttime snowstorm diminishes over time, Francie is compelled to leave the cozy school and set out into the icy cold, swirling snowstorm.

Me Three
By Susan Juby
224 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268722 | Puffin Canada 
Eleven-year-old Rodney is starting sixth grade in a new school, in a new home in a new state. The new school is really old and smells like someone ate a couple of pounds of glue and then barfed it back up, and he’s in a class with a bunch of kids who seem to sort of hate him. Even his best friend won’t write him back. It’s strange, because just a couple of months ago, Rodney was one of the most popular guys in his fifth-grade class. He lived in Las Vegas, with his mom, older sister and his dad, who was a successful professional poker player. Now his old life is over – his mom even says they shouldn’t tell anyone their real last name. Because of something his dad did. Or something people said that he did. His dad says it’s all a big misunderstanding, but he’s now staying in a center “for people who are having problems, like being addicted to drugs or gambling, or because other people don’t understand that you are just funny and friendly and sometimes you give people hugs or put your arm around them and they accuse you of taking liberties and ruin everything.” Rodney is confident that it won’t be long until the misunderstanding is all cleared up and they can all go back to their old life. But he can only keep the truth at bay for so long . . . .

Seekers of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #2
By Kevin Sands
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270442 | Puffin Canada
Rule number one: Never mess with magic. Even so, a life-or-death situation calls for Callan and his criminal friends to make a deal with the Eye – the sinister, sentient artifact they stole from a sorcerer. It’s Lachlan’s life in exchange for a future task, and the gang has no choice but to agree. But even as Lachlan is resurrected, it’s not without cost. Through the Eye, Callan can see a tiny purple stain inside Lachlan’s soul, which will eventually consume him. The cure – and their part of the deal – lies with the Dragon’s Teeth, a pair of swords with extraordinary powers, and the search for them leads the thieves on a quest that will unravel the mystery of the Eye. Old friends, new betrayals, and an even more daring break-in than the last culminate in a confrontation that will take all the gang’s skill and power to resist – or they’ll die trying.

The Final Trial: Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #4
By Kelley Armstrong
320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270206 | Puffin Canada
The time has come! After discovering the true reason for the monster migration, Rowan is on an expedition to ultimately prove that she is worthy of the ebony monster-slaying sword on her back. She and her twin brother, Rhydd, their friends Dain and Alianor, as well as some other trusted advisors – and the ever-growing group of monstrous companions – are on a mission to help protect the dragon living in their homeland and are travelling to kingdoms beyond to make their case. But not everyone agrees that people can live peacefully alongside monsters, especially when new terrifying creatures appear. It will take everything Rowan has to fight off threats of all kinds, from both monsters and people. It won’t be easy, but if she succeeds, she will become Royal Monster Hunter at long last.

The Grave Thief
By Dee Hahn
344 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269439 | Puffin Canada 
Twelve-year-old Spade is a grave thief. With his father and brother, he digs up the recently deceased to steal jewels, the main form of trade in Wyndhail. Digging graves works for Spade – alone in the graveyard at night, no one notices his limp or calls him names. He’s headed for a lifetime of theft when his father comes up with the audacious plan to rob a grave in the Wyndhail castle cemetery. Spade and his brother get caught in a royal trap, and Spade must find the master of the Woegon: a deadly creature that is stalking the castle by night. Along the way, he meets Ember, the queen’s niece, and together they race to solve the mystery of the legendary Deepstones and their connection to the Woegon, the queen, a missing king and the mysterious pebble Spade finds in the Wyndhail cemetery. This is a fantastic story of friendship, bravery, grief and acceptance.

The Puffin Keeper
By Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Benji Davies
112 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271807 | Puffin Canada
As a child, Allen is saved from a nautical disaster by Benjamin Postlethwaite, a solitary lighthouse keeper. Years later, Allen returns to the lighthouse, and the two nurse an injured young puffin back to health. When Allen is called up to fight in World War Two, he’s not sure he’ll see his mother or Benjamin again, but his fond memories of his time at the lighthouse keep him going, even through prison camp. Allen and Ben’s enduring friendship over the years is the basis for this story about friendship, art, war and an incredibly adorable puffin. From masterful storyteller Michael Morpurgo and world-class illustrator Benji Davies comes this truly beautiful tale which will enchant readers of all ages.

The Stone Child: The Misewa Saga #3
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266162 | Puffin Canada
After discovering a near-lifeless Eli at the base of the Great Tree, Morgan knows she doesn’t have much time to save him. And it will mean asking for help – from friends old and new. Racing against the clock, and with Arik and Emily at her side, Morgan sets off to follow the trail away from the Great Tree to find Eli’s soul before it’s too late. As they journey deep into the northern woods, a place they’ve been warned never to enter, they face new challenges and life-threatening attacks from strange and horrifying creatures. But a surprise ally comes to their aid, and Morgan finds the strength to focus on what’s most important: saving her brother’s life. 

Unstoppable Us, Volume 1: How Humans Took Over the World
By Yuval Noah Harari
Illustrated by Ricard Zaplana Ruiz
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882214 | Puffin Canada
Even though we’ll never outrun a hungry lion or outswim an angry shark, humans are pretty impressive – and the most dominant species on the planet. So, how did we become “unstoppable”? The answer to that is one of the strangest tales you’ll ever hear. And it’s a true story. From learning to make fire and using the stars as guides to cooking meals in microwaves and landing on the moon, prepare to uncover the secrets and superpowers of how we evolved from our first appearances millions of years ago. Acclaimed author Yuval Noah Harari has expertly crafted an extraordinary story of how humans learned to not only survive but also thrive on Earth, complete with maps, a timeline, and full-color illustrations that bring his dynamic, unputdownable writing to life.

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
Fifteen-year-old Fawad Chaudhry loves two things: basketball and his mother’s potato and ground-beef stuffed parathas. Both are round and both help him forget about things like his father, who died two years ago, his mother’s desire to arrange a marriage to his first cousin, Nusrat, back home in Pakistan, and the tiny apartment in Regent Park he shares with his mom and sister. Not to mention his estranged best friend Yousuf, who’s coping with the shooting death of his older brother. But Fawad has plans: like, asking out Ashley, even though she lives on the other, wealthier side of the tracks, and saving his friend Arif from being beaten into a pulp for being the school flirt, and making the school basketball team and dreaming of being the world’s first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. All he has to do now is convince his mother to let him try out for the basketball team. And let him date girls from his school. Not to mention somehow get Omar, the neighborhood bully, to leave him alone.