I don’t usually post a review of the second book in a series so close to the original, but I wanted to read this one and see if it would be a better fit for Book Club being it takes place in England. Nothing against Invincible Abdullah and the Deadly Mountain Revenge, but we’ve done a lot of books for Book Club set in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and I want to make sure that the students see Muslims in a variety of settings. This book has the same main character, but is not dependent on the first book for understanding in any way. Writing style is about a fourth grade level and it is just 152 pages, with sporadic pictures and a glossary of terms at the back.
Abdullah and his Malaysian friend Zaki are karate buddies that train and worship together while attending college. The book opens with the two sparring and Abdullah going home to a letter from an old karate friend, John, who got mixed up with drugs and stealing cars and is now in prison. John asks Abdullah to come visit him to answer some questions he has about Islam. After a few visits John takes shahada and changes his name to Abd ur-Rahman. When Abd ur-Rahman gets out Abdullah and his family support him and the sensei even lets him back in to the dojo. However, things don’t stay calm for long and when Zaki’s car gets stolen, and Abdullah is kidnapped, the boys friendship, loyalty and faith is tested.
WHY I LIKE IT:
The story is face paced and action filled, it also never waivers from being a strong Islamically based book. The characters balance religion, and day-to-day living in a realistic and inspiring way that engages the reader and makes the character’s morality seamless and believable. I love that the characters forgive a convict in words and actions and that the friends are from a variety of ethnicities that again, seem realistic and not preachy and forced. The twists and turns in the story keep the reader’s interest and although you know things will end up alright, the author does keep you curious.
Obviously there is an element of criminals and drugs that while presented in a negative light is central to the story. There are not a lot of details about the drug use, but there is some violence that the characters go through, and mention of guns. There is also brief mention of a bar in the book that is visited to make a few phone calls from. The only concern that I have, was that it could be perceived that John had to change his name when he takes shahada and I don’t know if I agree that, that is mandatory. In the book it weaves a little bit of a side story and is presented very positively, but it is something to be aware of none-the-less.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I will probably use this book for the 3rd to 5th grade Book Club selection later this school year, because I think there is a lot to talk about. Topics of rehabilitation, taking shahada, and being a good friend are prevalent through out and something I think kids can wrap their heads around and have opinions about. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about the book online and I’ve heard from one distributor that the book is out of print, but on some sites there are still copies available and there is also a workbook.