Book Review of In the Name of God

In the Name of God
In the Name of God
Author: Paula Jolin
Genre: Teen & Young Adult
Book Type: Paperback
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Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for

17-year-old Nadia lives in Damascus, Syria, in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and her brother. Every day the war seems to move closer, every day the poverty seems to get a little bit worse, every day Nadia sees everyone moving further from the God she knows, and every day Nadia gets more angry. When her cousin is taken to places and torture unknown, Nadia knows it's time to take a stand. But how? And why does no one else understand?

Her family can't seem to give her the answers that she needs. Lately they almost seem afraid of her. The only person who seems to understand is the mysterious rebel who appears with cryptic messages. With each meeting with this man, Nadia is more and more sure that he has the right idea. With his help she will finally be able to make her stand, as God intended.

This was a book that I desperately wanted to read, and was terrified of, all at the same time. I wasn't sure what I would come across, but I knew it was going to be important somehow. And it was, but not in the way that I expected.

One of the most important things I took from IN THE NAME OF GOD is that religious zealotry doesn't have to be a quick, dramatic event. It can be a slow, building descent, full of little moments that may not seem too consequential until you add them all together. Involved in it is a strong desire to do right, to fix things, to make things better, and to make a statement. You can't hate Nadia for believing so strongly, and for wanting to make a difference, as much as you hope that she changes her path.

Another thing that I found particularly telling was a moment when a friend of a cousin says he lived in the U.S. One of Nadia's cousins asks if he lived in New York or Hollywood. At first it was kind of funny, until I thought about it. Are those the only faces our country presents to the outside world? After that was more discussion about the perceptions of life in America versus the reality. Which was enlightening to say the least. If for no other reason than these, we need more books like this in the world. Maybe if there were, we would all be a bit more understanding.