Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn
Age Range: 12 – 17 years
Grade Level: 7 – 12
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (December 2, 2014)
Mariam Just Wants to Fit In.
That’s not easy when she’s the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she’s in trouble…big trouble.
Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam’s parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.
But Marian’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.
As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.
About the Author:
Patricia Dunn has appeared in Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, the Village Voice, the Nation, LA Weekly, and others. With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also teaches, this Bronx-raised rebel and former resident of Cairo settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog. Visit Patricia at www.patriciadunnauthor.com.
Excerpt From the Book:
Sixteen (well, almost sixteen), and I’m behind bars. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. It’s not as if I’m locked up with serial killers or slashers, but I’m in a cell. Deanna’s with me, along with about thirty other underage girls who were also at the party and didn’t run away in time or convince the police to let them go.
As we piled into squad cars, I watched these girls (and even a few guys) put on all the moves—-crying, flirting, screaming, fainting, even begging—-to get out of the arrest, but none of it worked.
I have to say Deanna gave it her best. Not being able to crack a smile really worked to her advantage when the officer in charge said to her that he was glad someone was taking the situation seriously. She wasn’t kidding when she said she was a great litigator like her mom. When the cop found me hiding in the bathtub with the shower curtain drawn (could I have picked a more obvious place?) and dragged me downstairs with the rest of the crowd, there was Deanna, telling the police we shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of some stupid guys who brought beer to the party. She almost had one cop convinced to let us go when Karen, the bane of my existence, stepped forward and threw up on his shoes.
All through elementary school and middle school, Karen and her drone Beth talked trash about me and my family. Their favorite insults were that my dad was in Al–Qaeda and my mom was only one of his many wives.
At least she’s not in our cell. They put her, and all the other vomiting kids, in a separate cell—-with buckets.
Still, it stinks in here. I stick my nose between the bars, trying to breathe air that doesn’t smell like puke, beer, or raw fish. Who has an open sushi bar at a high school party? Then again, what would I know about parties? This is the only party I’ve been to since first grade.
“Come on, Mar. It’s not that bad.” Deanna pushes against my shoulder. I don’t budge. I don’t say anything.
“Funny how we started the night trying to break into the party, and now we just want to get out.” Deanna stands closer to me, but I can’t even look at her. If I do, I’ll start to cry. And I’m already the biggest freak at school.
“Look, I know you’re flipping out here, but everything will be okay.”
“Are you kidding me?” I turn to her and lower my voice. “I’m in jail. Do you know how happy this is going to make my parents?”
“Now they can feel totally justified when they never let me leave our apartment again.”
Relax? We’ve just been arrested! We are in a holding cell with girls who have picked on me—-or, worse yet, ignored me—-since kindergarten. On top of that, my parents are going to kill me! Why did I let Deanna talk me into going to this party?
Okay, the truth: she didn’t have to talk me into anything. I wanted to go. I would’ve done anything, even lie to my parents, to crash a party. I knew I wasn’t invited and that I’d probably be kicked out as soon as someone saw me. But forcibly removed—-by the police? That I didn’t expect.
Still, I shouldn’t blame Deanna for helping me get what I wanted. But I do. It was an amazing night of music and dancing. Yes, I danced with three guys! And nobody made jokes about my dad being a towel–head or my uncle being Bin Laden…Tonight I was dancing and laughing. I wasn’t a freak or a weirdo; I was just another girl having fun.
“Actually,” I say, turning to Deanna, “thanks.”
“You’re thanking me?” she asks.
“Hey, I know I’m in big trouble but tonight was an adventure—-probably the last one I’ll have until I’m thirty.”
“Don’t mention it,” she says. Most people would say she has no expression on her face, but I can tell she’s smiling.
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