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Rebels by Accident
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Rebels by Accident
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"The next best young adult novel." –Huffington PostMariam Just Wants to Fit In.That's not easy when she's the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she...
"The next best young adult novel." –Huffington PostMariam Just Wants to Fit In.That's not easy when she's the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she...
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  • "The next best young adult novel." –Huffington Post

    Mariam Just Wants to Fit In.

    That's not easy when she's the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she's in trouble...big trouble.

    Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam's parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.

    But Marian's strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.

    As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.


  • From the book

    Chapter One

    This isn't my first visit to the Mayflower Police Station. The last time I was here, Mom brought me with her to register a complaint about a pothole. It was the size of a quarter, but Mom insisted it was dangerous to drive over when she had a child in her car. I was thirteen.

    This time, I'm at the Mayflower Police Station as a criminal. Sixteen (well, almost sixteen), and I'm behind bars. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. It's not as if I'm locked up with serial killers or slashers, but I'm in a cell. Deanna's with me, along with about thirty other underage girls who were also at the party and didn't run away in time or convince the police to let them go.

    As we piled into squad cars, I watched these girls (and even a few guys) put on all the moves-crying, flirting, screaming, fainting, even begging-to get out of the arrest, but none of it worked.

    I have to say Deanna gave it her best. Not being able to crack a smile really worked to her advantage when the officer in charge said to her that he was glad someone was taking the situation seriously. She wasn't kidding when she said she was a great litigator like her mom. When the cop found me hiding in the bathtub with the shower curtain drawn (could I have picked a more obvious place?) and dragged me downstairs with the rest of the crowd, there was Deanna, telling the police we shouldn't be responsible for the actions of some stupid guys who brought beer to the party. She almost had one cop convinced to let us go when Karen, the bane of my existence, stepped forward and threw up on his shoes.

    All through elementary school and middle school, Karen and her drone Beth talked trash about me and my family. Their favorite insults were that my dad was in Al-Qaeda and my mom was only one of his many wives.

    At least she's not in our cell. They put her, and all the other vomiting kids, in a separate cell-with buckets.

    Still, it stinks in here. I stick my nose between the bars, trying to breathe air that doesn't smell like puke, beer, or raw fish. Who has an open sushi bar at a high school party? Then again, what would I know about parties? This is the only party I've been to since first grade.

    "Come on, Mar. It's not that bad." Deanna pushes against my shoulder. I don't budge. I don't say anything.

    "Funny how we started the night trying to break into the party, and now we just want to get out." Deanna stands closer to me, but I can't even look at her. If I do, I'll start to cry. And I'm already the biggest freak at school.

    "Look, I know you're flipping out here, but everything will be okay."

    "Are you kidding me?" I turn to her and lower my voice. "I'm in jail. Do you know how happy this is going to make my parents?"


    "Now they can feel totally justified when they never let me leave our apartment again."


    Relax? We've just been arrested! We are in a holding cell with girls who have picked on me-or, worse yet, ignored me-since kindergarten. On top of that, my parents are going to kill me! Why did I let Deanna talk me into going to this party?

    Okay, the truth: she didn't have to talk me into anything. I wanted to go. I would've done anything, even lie to my parents, to crash a party. I knew I wasn't invited and that I'd probably be kicked out as soon as someone saw me. But forcibly removed-by the police? That I didn't expect.

    Still, I shouldn't blame Deanna for helping me get what I wanted. But I do. It was an amazing night of music and dancing. Yes, I...

About the Author-

  • PATRICIA DUNN'S writing has appeared in Salon.com, CSM, The Village Voice, The Nation, L.A. Weekly, and others. With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also works as the Director of the Writing Institute, this Bronx-raised rebel and former resident of Cairo settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog. Visit Patricia at patriciadunnauthor.com.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 13, 2014
    Editor and journalist Dunn debuts with a powerful coming-of-age story (originally self-published), set on the brink of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution in 2011. Egyptian-American Mariam struggles with the contradictions of being Muslim in post-9/11 New York City. When the 15-year-old and her best friend Deanna get arrested at their first high school party, Mariam’s strict parents send both girls to stay with Mariam’s sittu (grandmother) in Cairo. As the girls discover boys, explore the pyramids, and test the limits of their fears and friendship, Mariam finds that Sittu is far from the “Darth Vader’s evil sister” she imagined—she is clever, loving, and tuned in to social media and the rebellious, hopeful pulse of her country. As Mariam and Deanna are swept into the protests of Tahir Square, they learn the price and the promise of rebellion: tragedy and hope inexorably intermingled. Dunn allows Mariam’s voice its space—making it tentative, passionate, doubting, and utterly believable—while creating a cast of Cairo youth, rebels, and expatriates that upend Mariam’s preconceptions and will do the same for many readers. Ages 12–up. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2014
    An American teen visiting her Egyptian grandmother in Cairo witnesses the beginnings of the Arab Spring movement. After being caught at a wild high school party, Mariam and her best friend, Deanna, are sent to spend the remaining five months of the school year with her conservative grandmother in Egypt. Mariam dreads her grandmother's legendary strictness: "[F]rom the stories my baba [father] has told me...I would probably have more freedom in jail." But Deanna, who "loves anything Egyptian," immediately embraces the adventure. (Deanna's tastes run toward romance novels featuring stereotypical illustrations of "pseudo-Arab lover boy[s]" on the covers.) Mariam's initial mockery of her friend's books later becomes ironic when the plot begins to center more heavily on romantic entanglements than the rebellion against President Hosni Mubarak. By the end of the teens' stay in Egypt (which ends up being a mere five days), both girls have found boyfriends for themselves and a love match for the grandmother. The timeline makes the many musings on true love more mawkish than believable. Meanwhile, there are so few scenes about the demonstrations in Tahrir Square or meaningful conversations about the political landscape that readers will develop little sense of the historical significance of the real Egyptian rebellion. This novel may mean well, but it fails to find a balance between romance and the reality of regime change. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2014

    Gr 9 Up-Miriam and her best friend Deanna land in jail following an ill-advised attempt to crash a party shortly before the police arrived. Egyptian American Miriam, always kept on a tight leash by her parents, is convinced her life will end following the party incident. Instead, she's handed a worse fate; her irate parents send her to Egypt to live with her notoriously strict Sittu (grandmother). Deanna's mother decides that she should go, too, so they are promptly shipped off together. Sittu, however, strikes little resemblance to the harsh woman described by Miriam's father and clearly has a few secrets up her sleeve, as they begin to suspect her online activities have something to do with the civil unrest bubbling up around them. Miriam and Deanna's trip coincides with the dawn of the Arab Spring on the eve of the protests in Tahrir Square. Much is packed into the story of their very short time in Egypt, from sightseeing, quarrels, and crushes to matchmaking, illness, and the protests. The narrative is at its most compelling during scenes set in Tahrir Square as the characters try to communicate amid the chaos., though these scenes comprise only a very small part of the story line. Miriam's growing self-awareness and reluctant connection to her Egyptian identity and Sittu are the primary focus. Though the plot feels contrived and often predictable, it is still an enjoyable, fast-paced read. A sweet coming-of-age tale that sheds light on the plight of anyone who feels like an outsider.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publishers Weekly "A powerful coming-of-age story set on the brink of Egypt's January 25 Revolution in 2011... Dunn allows Mariam's voice its space-making it tentative, passionate, doubting, and utterly believable-while creating a cast of Cairo youth, rebels, and expatriates that upend Mariam's preconceptions and will do the same for many readers."
  • School Library Journal "A sweet coming-of-age tale that sheds light on the plight of anyone who feels like an outsider"
  • American Society For Muslim Advancement ""Told through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Mariam, an Egyptian-American girl who travels to Egypt during the Arab Spring, Rebels by Accident captivates and engrosses the reader. Illuminating for young readers the complex role of youth in the tumultuous Arab Spring, Mariam's story reflects upon important concerns that American Muslims face, providing a valuable perspective on the power young people can wield in truly affecting change in the world." "
  • Wishful Endings "Rebels by Accident was a fun, lovely, humorous, and bittersweet story about two girls experiencing a country in turmoil and getting to know a grandmother who was full of wisdom and love. "
  • Compass Book Ratings "An interesting, heartfelt read full of diversity and historical developments, Rebels by Accident is a wonderful read for teens who are curious about cultural diversity and/or political reform."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "The fanciful travelogue/romance overlay humanizes the political substrate and draws attention to the connections between American teens and those involved in the protests by highlighting the commonality of their ages and concerns"

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