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I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I Am Thunder

NewGen - YA Fiction   Debuts of the Month   
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February 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Brave British Muslim keeps her head after losing her heart

An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter.

Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is.

Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. ~ Joanne Owen

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Humaira Kauser - 'I hope more books are written in this vain. We need more people like Muhammad Khan to craft stories like this to not only show that we are not alone but also so people understand.'
  • Izzy Read - 'This funny, gritty coming of age novel could not be more needed in this current day and age. I can only hope I can find more books like it!'
  • Megan Chambers - 'It was a relatively easy read, but dealt with delicate topics, so I’d definitely recommend this book to people, especially those wanting to get out of a reading slump.'
  • Imogen Breaks - 'I Am Thunder is about a young Muslim girl and what she has to face every day, just to stand up for what's right. Her narration tells an eye-opening story that you have to read to truly believe.'
  • Michelle Armstrong-Harris - 'A very current storyline which deals with a complex context well. Definitely a YA book most suitable for 14 years plus.'
  • Laura Solomon - 'Muhammad Khan writes confidently in the style of a 16 year old girl showing modern day threats and whimsical humour. His interesting perspective only accentuates the troubling subject matter.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This was a beautiful and heartbreaking book , the main character had such a great sense of humour I was rooting for her to do well. I read this in one sitting, it was marvellous.'
  • Celeste Phelan - 'A very relevant novel in today’s society, addressing the ever increasing problems of extremism and discrimination, keeping the reader gripped.'


I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a novelist. There's just one problem - her super-controlling parents have already planned her life out for her:

Step 1) Get educated

Step 2) Qualify as a doctor

Step 3) Marry a cousin from Pakistan.

Oh, and boyfriends are totally haram. No one is more surprised than humble Muzna when high school hottie, Arif Malik, takes an interest in her. But Arif and his brother are angry at the West for demonizing Islam and hiding a terrible secret. As Arif begins to lead Muzna down a dark path, she faces a terrible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak up and betray her heart?

I Am Thunder is the debut novel from stunning YA voice, Muhammad Khan, which questions how far you'll go to stand up for what you believe.


This fierce, fresh UK debut has one of the most distinctive narrators I've read in ages. Muzna's warmth and heart transform what could have been a gritty issues book into a powerful call for hope and standing up for your beliefs. Bookseller

An exciting new voice in YA Netgalley Books of the Month

About the Author

Muhammad Khan is a maths teacher in a secondary school in Tooting and takes his inspiration from the children he teaches, as well as his own upbringing as a British-born Pakistani. He lives in South London and will be studying for a creative writing MA next year at Roehampton.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th January 2018


Muhammad Khan

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Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan


320 pages
Interest Age: From 12 years


NewGen - YA Fiction
Debuts of the Month

Family & home stories (Children's / Teenage)
School stories (Children's / Teenage)
Romance & relationships stories (Children's / Teenage)



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