Author Colleen Nelson is a former school librarian, so you can have some faith in her commitment to research. In the case of Sadia, Nelson had two areas she needed to study up on: basketball and Canadian-Muslim culture. Her subjects are a group of grade 9 students, in particular Sadia, whose family emigrated from Damascus to Manitoba when they were still emigrants, rather than refugees. Sadia's bestie is Nazreen, whose family moved to Canada from Egypt around the same time. When our story begins, Nazreen is de-jabbing (taking off her hijab at school) and seeming to prefer the company of Carmina, a Filipina-Canadian and non-Muslim.
Feeling like she's losing her friend and being saddled with the new kid who only speaks Arabic is rough on Sadia, but she can count on feeling good on the basketball court. She's trying out for a coed JV tournament team (is there really coed basketball?), and there's a boy on the team who might kinda like her. His name is Josh, so maybe not the most halal. This group of kids and a few other main characters are all in Mr. Letner's homeroom. Letner is also the basketball coach and history teacher. He gives the kids an assignment that leads to growth, sharing, and beauty all around.
Nelson seems have gotten a good feel for the race and religion issues and thanks people for having supported her efforts. There are a few things I wondered about, like using the word "refugee," which I've understood many so-described people resent and a "we're just like you" take on Muslims vs. other Canadians, but Sadia is a junior high kid from the Prairies, so maybe that's where her level of sophistication is.
I thought about the the woman who'd been staring at me on the bus. Maybe I should have said something to her--nothing rude, but if we talked, she'd see I was more than a head scarf. So was Mom.
Sadia is a sweet kid, and this is a sweet book.