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LM_NET  September 2016

LM_NET September 2016

Subject:

Richie’s Picks: WATCHED

From:

Richie Partington <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Richie Partington <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:23:27 -0400

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text/plain

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Richie’s Picks: WATCHED by Marina Budhos, Wendy Lamb Books, September 2016, 272p., ISBN: 978-0-553-53418-4


“NEWTON, Iowa — Donald Trump ‘would certainly implement’ a database system tracking Muslims in the United States, the Republican front-runner told NBC News on Thursday night.
“‘I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,’ Trump said in Newton, Iowa, in between campaign town halls.
“‘There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,’ he added. ‘We should have a lot of systems.’
When asked whether Muslims would be legally obligated to sign into the database, Trump responded, ‘They have to be — they have to be.’ Later, Trump was repeatedly asked to explain the difference between requiring Muslims to enter their information into a database and making Jewish people register in Nazi Germany. He responded four times by saying, ‘You tell me.’”
-- from “Trump’s plan for a Muslim database draws comparison to Nazi Germany” msnbc.com, 11/19/15


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
-- from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution 


WATCHED is a high-stakes coming-of-age story about a teenage Bangladeshi immigrant, a high school senior in New York City, who is compelled to become a spy against other Muslim Americans. 


“I’m all alone. I relax. I can hear the muffled sound of the speakers inside. Quickly, I slide out my phone, set the registration pages on the table, and press. Click. Another page, click. Four in all. It’s smooth-swift, faster than I would have thought. Thrilling, even. When break time comes, I offer to take a few pictures. I perch in the front row for the next speaker, snap some of him and the audience. Ishrat gives me a grateful look. The edges of her pupils, I notice, have a touch of gold. My stomach flops over. I can’t tell if I’m glad this is so easy or dismayed,
“That afternoon, when I join one of the workshops, is when the shift begins. I start to know what I’m doing. It’s like putting myself through a door and realizing it’s made of melting glass. It’s not so hard. You can step right through and be on the other side. Your shoulders, your arms are made of putty. You are stronger, more flexible than you think.
“The best thing about being one of the kids at the back of the room is you’re already a spy. You know how to fake it. The other guys who are poking their hands in the air, involved, could never do what I can. I’ve got all the moves, the feints and angles. I know how to rearrange my face, make it attentive. How to slant my body, use my arm to hide my phone. Half listen while a camera coolly spools inside my head. For the first time, what I’m good at--lying with my body--has power.”


As we’re meeting Naeem, he’s hitting rock bottom: He’s been blowing off school and won’t be able to graduate in June with his class. He’s been hanging around with the wrong guy. He’d been caught shoplifting previously and was let off with a warning. This time. when he’s caught leaving a department store after being set up by his so-called friend, the cops also find a bag of weed in his backpack.


Naeem has few options when the pair of detectives holding him in custody offer him an opportunity to avoid the consequences of his misbehavior. In exchange for not being booked, they want him to spy on Muslims, both online and around New York City. They will pay him good money for whatever worthwhile information he accumulates.


Interestingly, in order to fit into the community and be accepted at mosques and in young Muslim organizations, Naeem has to clean up his act so that he's believable. His experience as a high school thespian made him observant to detail and able to successfully assume a role. He begins styling himself as a clean-cut, educated, and considerate young Muslim. Playing the role drastically improves his behavior.


His secret job also helps mend his shaky family relationships. 


When Naeem was young, his father came to America on a work visa and left him behind in Bangladesh with his mother. After his mother got sick and eventually died, Naeem spent years there, living with relatives. Eventually, thanks to his father’s subsequent arranged marriage to an Americanized Muslim immigrant who has gained citizenship, Naeem was able to immigrate and join the family in New York City. Due to his behavior and the family’s financial straits, there’s been tension between Naeem and his father. But his new appearance and behavior, coupled with the significant sums of money he’s been able to give to his family (while hiding the true nature of his “employment”), brings the family closer.


When the detectives show Naeem a jihadist recruitment video, Naeem buys into the notion that his spying is important in protecting his community rather than a betrayal of that community. It appears that his recruitment by the police is complete. 


But how will his loyalty to friends, family, and community compete with his notion of being a superhero spy saving America?


WATCHED is a powerful, provocative, and essential read. As the clock ticks down toward Election Day 2016, it is a tale that could not be more relevant to the national dialogue.


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
[log in to unmask]
https://www.facebook.com/richie.partington
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/

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