Published: Aug 16, 2012
Rebels by Accident details last year's uprising in Cairo, Egypt through the eyes of American-born Miriam whose parents send her to stay with her Sittu (grandmother) in Egypt after Miriam gets busted at a party. The worst part is Miriam and her friend Deanna, both outcasts at their school, weren't even drinking or smoking pot with the other kids, but they were arrested anyway. Her strict parents, who don't allow Miriam to have a cell phone, Facebook page or dress in trendy clothes, determine Sittu can straighten her out and teach Miriam about her Muslim roots, which Miriam is admittedly ashamed of. All the stories Miriam's heard about her Sittu make her sound like a tyrannical overloard. Given Deanna is having a hard time at school, Miriam's parents convince Deanna's mother to let her go to Egypt, too. Their friendship is inspiring throughout the story and I liked that Miriam had her friend's support.
The whole story takes place in a matter of weeks, maybe just two. Part of me wondered why Miriam's parents would send her to Egypt during a time of such unrest, but as the book points out, Egyptians had been advocating for change for years, but nothing as big as the uprising had ever happened. Social media played a big part, and her Sittu, who Miriam discovers is nothing like she thought, is active on Facebook to support the rebels who want to overturn Egypt's oppressive regime.
What's cool about this story is how Miriam and Deanna seem like normal American teenagers, so we see the social unrest through their experiences. Miriam's view of her parent's home country radically changes once she meets new friends and sees the country through her Sittu's eyes. She also comes to terms with her own self-image issues. Miriam might have strict parents, but she can be as crass and boy-crazy and goofy as any teen girl. This actually reminded me of one of Simone Elkeles' series because of the free-wheeling dialogue.
This book debuts this week August 16 and is available here: B&N.com, Amazon