May 27, 2016

Discussion Post: "American Terrorist" by Todd Strasser

I want to start off this post by saying that I have completely lost all respect I had for Simon & Schuster and that I am disgusted by their decision to publish this book. Why? Just look at this summary:

The whole summary screams "WRONG" and from the number of authors and bloggers talking about their reactions to the announcement of this book it is clear that it should have never been accepted by S&S. Plenty of people have tweeted and written about their reactions to this book but as a Muslim reader and blogger I want to write about it from my perspective, especially since this book addresses my faith and myself.

(Also notice how they changed the summary of the book after all the backlash they received)

Almost everyday there are TV reports, news articles, and Internet posts about radicals with mostly anything positive related to Muslims being overshadowed by those. Now, it's one thing for all of that to exist but it's a whole new level when a book aimed at YOUNG ADULTS (which includes people my age) that ties terrorists and Muslims together is published (or will be published soon). These young adults by all definitions of science are still maturing, learning, and experiencing. They are still "malleable" in a sense and can easily be affected or influences by books like this. It's even worse if you're a Muslim teen living in a place like America with increasing amounts of racism and stereotypes.

 Imagine a Muslim teen in high school who gets bullied and picked on for his religion, how would he feel if he saw this? Perhaps he has no friends or family to support him, he would feel horrible and terribly alone. This book is a testament to how widespread the racism and stereotyping against Muslims (not just Muslims, but also other non-white people) is.

Now let me tell you how my experiences as a Muslim who was born, grew up, and attends school  in America relates to this book. The high school I go to has three other Muslims (together 4/550 people in the school are Muslim). I wouldn't define my school as racist, especially when there are much worse schools but there is still a lot of "jokes" and stereotyping. I have many close friends at my school (people I've known up to eight years ago) that constantly "joke" about Islam and stereotypes. They make jokes about me and terrorists and different parts of Islam like the fact that I don't eat pork. If the school I go to which is fairly small and the fifth best school in New Jersey has these jokes and stereotypes then you can imagine how other schools in different places may be like. This book is aimed at people like my classmates and if  I saw anyone in my school reading "American Terrorist" I would definitely feel horrible.

This book affects all Muslims, but especially the ones who feel alone. I am lucky enough to have a supporting family, friends, and live in a community without hate or prejudice but not everyone is that lucky.

I have been blogging for over two years now and in that time I have read and reviewed multiple Simon & Schuster books. Many of those I bought with my own money (which is a big deal when you're a high school student that doesn't make that much money) and spent time reading. After learning about "American Terrorist" I feel disgusted that I spent my money, time, and publicity from my blog (small as it may be) on this publisher. I know that not everyone at S&S agreed to this book but the fact that it was accepted, a cover was made, and a release date was planned shows that multiple people DID want this book published. The other day everyone was congratulating S&S on releasing Salaam Reads (an imprint for Muslim books) but "American Terrorist" isn't being published by that imprint and that plus what the book is about shows that Simon & Schuster is two-faced or just doesn't care about it's readers. If you look at Twitter or online you can see all the outrage that this book has gotten which shows that this is NOT ok!

So, to Simon & Schuster; I ask you this not just as a Muslim reader and blogger myself but also as an example of all the people who are against this book: apologize and reverse your decision to publish this book.

So how do YOU feel about this book? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below!


  1. When I read the title I thought it was going to be a book that would bring light to the issue of stereotyping Muslims and how damaging that could be to a person... but nope.

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  3. I recently read, " If I grow Up," about a kid who was doing well as he4 could in a really difficult environment but became a gangster.
    The main character/story was about a kid who was not evil and any one could relate to, but made mistakes (being in a gang) so that the reader can identify where the kid made mistakes..and realise they don't want to be in a gang ie make similar mistakes...even though real life is not in black and white, and good people can make bad decisions, that readers can learn from, and still identify with the character as a human being not unlike themself. It was very thought provoking and I suggest reading the book American Terrorist, and ask yourself if you relate to the main character as a human first, but someone mistakes you would not make. I bet it is a book about stereotyping Muslims and how damaging it can be to people, being a fan of the 3 other Todd Strasser book I have read. Please don't judge me if you see me reading this one. I bet it is deep and thoughtful. :)