by Marina Budhos. Atheneum Books, 2006. Nadira and her family are illegal aliens from Bangaladesh in post-9/11 New Jersey. After the government starts a registration program aimed at all males from Muslim countries, her family flees to the Canadian boarder in terror. They are afraid the father will be deported or imprisoned. They are rejected by the Canadians at the boarder, and her father is taken into custody. Naidra and her sister drive back to NJ and try to pretend to live a normal life while their mother lives in Vermont in a shelter, waiting for their father's case to come to a hearing.
It was strange and uncomfortable for me to read this riveting book directly after reading a book on the Holocaust and another one on the human rights violations, disappearances and tortures in Chile in the 1980s. All three books are about young people dealing with displacement, loss of one's home country, government mistreatment, and challenging moral choices. Ask Me No Questions does a good job of showing the fear and confusion of a Bangladeshi family that has tried to do their best to become citizens but has made some poor choices about how to do that. They have nothing to do with terrorists and are baffled about why they are caught up in the government crackdown. Nadira feels helpless and confused but she is thrust into a situation where she must act to try to save her father and prove his innocence. There is also a lot of tension between Naidra and her older sister, which makes the girls very complex and human characters. This book read quickly and was full of excitement and interesting details. I would highly recommend it to middle school and high school kids.
This is my third book read for the 4th annual Mother Reader 49 Hour Reading Challenge.