Rebels By Accident
“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.”
– Publishers Weekly
“The Next Best Young Adult Novel: ‘Rebels by Accident‘ ” Educational without being preachy, light without being flimsy. … Not only realistic, it’s grounded in current events.”
– Leora Tanenbaum, The Huffington Post
“In her debut novel, journalist Dunn tells an ambitious and winning coming-of-age story about an American teenager born to Egyptian parents. Being a teenager probably wasn’t a cakewalk for any of us, but when you’re a first generation Egyptian-American living in post-9/11 New York, no one can blame you for having a bit of an identity crisis. Mariam, a strong but lost 15-year-old, clutches to her sole friend, the bright and outspoken Deanna. Deanna struggles with her own issues. She’s from a single-parent home (she has a “sperm donor” for a father) and contends with a facial deformity that doesn’t allow her to smile. At the start of the book, the duo make a rare party appearance that winds up landing them and the rest of their high school class in jail for underage drinking and the presence of marijuana. As a consequence, Mariam’s parents decide to send their daughter to Egypt to live with her sittu (grandmother). And, in the only unrealistic plot point in the book, Deanna’s mother decides to send her along as well. But while Deanna excitedly prepares for their journey by studying travel books and practicing Arabic with Baba (Mariam’s father), Mariam dreads the idea of living with her sittu, whose “iron fist” she grew up fearing. Luckily, her grandmother turns out to be an incredibly warm and interesting woman who teaches Mariam about life and love and to be proud of her ancestry. Though their trip is cut short due to a revolution throughout Egypt, the five-day jaunt is a whirlwind of activity–a trip to the pyramids, ice skating in a mall, a love story for both young women and a brush with the political uprising that both inspires and teaches. The author shines at writing teenagers–no part of how they talk or think feels unfaithful to that delicate stage in life. An excellent young-adult novel that is an important and enjoyable read for both teenage girls and any adult wanting to understand more about the present-day life of Egyptian Americans.
– Kirkus Reviews
“Rebels has everything a good story needs: the confused main character, the fearless friend, the strict parents, the cool Sittu (grandma), and the cute guys. … Dunn truly captures what it is to be a teenager; she captures what it is to be a teenager in our modern world. The ‘modern’ teenager doesn’t identify solely with one ethnicity or from one cultural background and it’s comforting to know that there is a shift occurring in young adult novels to accommodate this change. Dunn does a marvelous job with providing a literary outlet for coping with the changing world. ”
– Prabh Kehal, Caliber Magazine, UC Berkeley’s award-winning entertainment and lifestyle magazine.
“Understanding the teenage voice.”
– Adriana Rambay Fernandez, Hudson Reporter, Hoboken, NJ
“There are not enough words to describe this book, but I guess I will try…How about awesome? Fabulous? Mind-blowing? Can you tell I really liked this book?”
– Once Upon a Twilight, YA Book Blog
“This book may read like a fun, across the world trip for two friends but it brings up many social questions. Religion, bullying and human rights are all spoken with wisdom from sittu. This is truly a fiction book in the teen literature that I have never read before. I’m inspired by it. I hope you will be too.”
– How Writers are Living a Life of Writing, Book Blog