At the same time, as I often am, I was weary about reading Muslim rep when I'm not sure of the religious identity of the author.
In speaking with Judah Tasa (who is incredibly kind by the way), I learned that he hired and paid Muslim sensitivity readers. This is SO important when you're writing characters you don't identify with (heck even with characters in your own community because individuals are different). Even more important to not expect that work to be done for FREE. Value the work of sensitivity readers because it's essential for authentic and diverse representation in books.
Mo and Moishe both immediately won my heart from the very first page. To be 18 ("adult") and still finding your way is something I think we can all relate to. Add in complexities of sexual and religious identities + mental health struggles and you have some incredible characters who are sympathetic without inducing pity. Instead you are PROUD of Mo and Moishe for their strength and honesty in facing their struggles, fears, and feelings.
I VERY much appreciated learning so much about Jewish heritage and culture through Moishe, as well as understanding a bit more about the conflict in Israel/Palestine. I was EVEN MORE appreciative of the authenticity of Mo's representation of the Muslim faith. When Moishe went off to do his morning prayers, Mo was up as well to perform his Fajr prayers. When I've read Muslim stories in the past, they come across as caricature--a Muslim name or ethnic background, but no instance of actual Islamic practices being performed throughout the story! How does a Muslim character go about their day and not perform any of the five daily prayers or at least think about doing them??? So, I absolutely LOVED that aspect of A Meeting of Two Prophets.
Lastly, the ending was realistic! Often times YA romance forces happy endings even if they don't make sense. This ending is happy but fits the story and characters perfectly.
This is a book that EVERY person needs to read, but especially queer Jewish and Muslim teens.
What recent reads have been PLEASANT, unexpected surprises?