Borderline Week #5: Connector-Abiha

Connection #1: Text to Self

Chapter 31: Pg. 253-254

The author has provided a powerful description of the subway station Sami travels through when following Tariq Hasan’s compliance, the unknown women.

“We hurry down a few steps, turn right into a tangle of underground shops bursting with crowds, smells, lights, noise. I squeeze my way through. A quick glance back. Andy and Marty are top of the steps, scanning the mob…

We’re at a set of glass doors. The subway entrance. We go through…

The doors close behind us. The women’s at a row of turnstiles. She drops her token, gets to the other side. I follow. We turn right, to a set of stairs going down to the tracks…

A new train’s pulling in. The women reaches back, grabs my hand, and pulls me down the last few steps onto the platform.

The train doors open. A heave of bad air; people spill out. We press against the current and force our way in, the last on board.

A whistle blows to clear the doorways.”

Personally, I was able to very vividly visualize this scenario in my head. Each summer, I visit New York City and predominantly commute using the subways. The image that the author has painted is familiar, one that I have seen multiple times in real life. When going on the subway with my family, I often glance behind me in order to confirm that my siblings are following. In addition, multiple times, I have pushed through the current of people trying to get off in order to guarantee that I catch the train. By connecting to this moment, I was able to feel Sami’s anxiety and confusion, to smell the bad air as well; fumes and body odour. Naturally, I found the atmosphere of the moment realistic and was able to enjoy it simply because I have experienced it and was able to relate to it, I further felt that the author described the scene perfectly.

Connection #2: Text to Self

Chapter 33: Pg. 273

After meeting Tariq Hasan, hearing his story and finding out that they are related as half-brothers, Sami ponders upon the recent events. “And I think of Eddy’s video, and all the other stuff in my life that looks one way but isn’t, or the way things have looked with Andy and Marty and they weren’t.” He acknowledges that often, things are distorted, they are not seen the way they actually are. I was able to relate to Sami’s thought and connect it back to my own life. Multiple times, I have gotten into trouble by my parents, been punished for things I have never done, lies I never told. I have fought with my siblings, blamed and questioned them for actions they didn’t commit. However, at the time, I was convinced to think otherwise. Friendships and relationships have been broken, accusations hurled, secrets kept, lies told, all over things that were not true. I was able to understand and sympathize with Sami’s thought. We, as imperfect humans, have faced numerous consequences, some positive, but most negative, for things that we never did. By connecting to this thought, I was able to feel Sami’s frustration, embarrassment and determination to repent.


Borderline Week #4: Summarizer-Abiha

Chapter 22-Chapter 28: Pg. 175-Pg. 233

During the entire weekend, information about the Islamic terrorist organization, known as the Brotherhood of Martyrs, is constantly flashed across radio and news stations throughout Rochester. The same, old images of Arman, Sami’s Dad, being dragged out of the Sabiri house by FBI agents are replayed as well. Though, they are now accompanied by interviews from the residents of Meadowvale, employees from Sheldon Laboratories and students from the Academy. Confused, tired and frustrated, Sami tries calling Andy and Marty in order to discuss his problems. However, they do no answer Sami’s calls or reply to his texts. Sami is found questioning the silence, wondering if the three are still friends. Left with nothing to do, Sami unconsciously walks towards Arman’s office. Maneuvering the mess made by the FBI, Sami settles himself underneath his Dad’s desk while hugging a picture of the two to his chest. Unwilling to believe the accusations being hurled, Sami questions his Dad’s actions and motives.

Monday morning, Sami is driven to school by his Mom, Neda. She believes that it is necessary to brave the community, to show them that the Sabiri family is courageous and strong willed. However, Neda returns to pick him up from the school midafternoon; a court hearing for Arman has been scheduled for the evening of the same day. When arriving at the Academy, Neda is greeted by Mr. Samuels, the principal. Recommending home-schooling for Sami as a result of the current circumstances (Arman’s arrest), he offers to refund fees for the remainder of the school year. However, Neda declines and walks out of the office holding her head high, she feels that Mr. Samuel is trying to save the reputation of his beloved school. Before leaving, she swiftly reminds Mr. Samuel that Sami has an equal right to attend the Academy and be educated.

Accompanied by their lawyer, Mr. Bhanjee, Sami and his Mom attend Arman’s court hearing. During the trial, an email recovered from Arman’s account is presented as a form of evidence towards his crimes, though, it is vague, providing no real clues. Furthermore, Arman claims that the email is not what it look likes. As a result, it is decided that Arman will be held in custody until firm evidence supporting him guilty or innocent is provided.

Dejected, puzzled and unsure how to help, Sami returns to school the next day only to find himself being targeted by Eddy Harrison (the school bully), and his gang. Eddy corners Sami in the washrooms, subsequently lowering him headfirst into a dirty toilet. Eddy tries blackmailing Sami into accepting aloud that his Dad is a terrorist. However, before Sami can succumb to the treatment, he is rescued by Mr. Bernstein, a history teacher. Before Mr. Bernstein and Sami can report the incident, Sami is called down to the office by Mr. Samuel. Not allowing him to explain, Mr. Samuel expels Sami based on a story already reported by Eddy. He further claims that Sami has simply committed many unlawful actions; getting into fights, swearing in class and vandalizing school property. Mr. Samuel states that he is left with no other choice.

Undeterred by his expulsion, Sami races towards Meadowvale Secondary School in the hopes of meeting Andy and Marty. Sami finds out that Andy and Marty were not ignoring him; their parents had simply taken their phones away and ordered them to stay away from Sami. Moreover, they had tried contacting Sami through pay-phones multiple times, though, their calls were not answered. Powered by his friends’ loyalty, Sami proposes the idea of travelling to Toronto in order to find the terrorist leader, Tariq Hasan, and proving his father innocent. Agreeing to help, Andy and Marty lie to their parents about a cottage visit up north while Sami leaves a note for his Mom. Boating to Canada, and subsequently being driven by Andy, the trio begin their trip to Toronto.

Borderline Week #3: Illustrator-Abiha

As illustrator for the third week of literacy circles, I chose to create two images that are closely related to each other.

Image #1: Chapter 15-Pg. 118

Eddy Harrison Vandalises School Property

Eddy Harrison Vandalises School Property

The first image portrays a vandalised table top, a table with the words ‘SABIRI SUX’ carved in with black marker. I was able to visualize this image as a result of the description provided in the book.

“Two words are carved in the table where I sit:


The gashes are scribbled in with magic marker.”

A very simple image, the defaced table top held great significance for Sami. Noticing the table and seeing his name carved in magic marker broke Sami. He could no longer take it. Sami acknowledged, “I mean, I always knew I was hated. But this makes it real. Real for everyone to see.” The hate was true, forever there, permanent. A sign of embarrassment, one seen by everyone. Sami was left flustered, saddened and angry. In addition, the lunch crowd that usually sat around Sami had moved as well. He was left deserted and alone. Recognizing that it had clearly been done by Eddy Harrison, the school bully, Sami wondered what extent he would go to in order to pick on and humiliate him. Fighting the urge to cry, Sami dashed towards his secret hiding place.

Image #2: Chapter 16-Pg. 125

Sami Sabiri Further Defaces Vandalised School Property

Sami Sabiri Further Defaces Vandalised School Property

The second image, a vandalised table top different from the previous, is infact, the same table. Unrecognizable, the table was further vandalised by Sami in an attempt to destroy the words. The detailed, vivid description provided in the book allowed me to visualize and create the image.

“Then I pull Dad’s chisel out of my knapsack. I start to connect the ends of the Ss, so they look like 8s…

I turn each I into a T…

The U in sux looks like a V. I put a line on top and turn it into a triangle…

I put a line under the A, making it a little triangle in a big triangle, and lines at the top and bottom of the X, turning it into a kind of hourglass. Then I take out a marker and scribble in the gouges.”

This moment brought out the rebellious, bad boy in Sami. He chose to use a chisel and modify the carving instead of reporting it. As a result, Eddy did not get into trouble. However, Sami was caught by Mr. Carson, a teacher. Consequently, he was taken to the office and suspended by Mr. McGregor, the principal. Any claims Sami made were dismissed, after all, the carving looked nothing like the original. Sami was punished, but Eddy, the person who deserved the most trouble was left ignored. This incident brought harsh consequences; Sami’s parents were told of his actions, an official report was filed in his academic records as well. Sami was left angered and frustrated, no one was ready to believe, or, simply even listen to him. They refused to give him a chance to explain.

Borderline Week #2: Passage Master-Abiha

Passage #1: Chapter 8-Pg. 59-60:

“The lot’s almost full. Fathers and sons are getting back from a few hours’ fishing, couples are heading out for a sunset cruise, and people like us are going to their cottages. Most everyone’s white. I stay glued to Andy and Marty, hands in my pockets, hoodie up, face down, trying my best to be invisible.

‘What’s with you?’ Andy asks.

‘Nothing. Just don’t want to get hassled.’

‘Don’t be so paranoid.’

‘Easy for you to say.'”

I chose this passage because it provides an insight to Sami’s thoughts and emotions. This passage has developed Sami’s personality, as a result, readers were able to learn more about the character. The author has emphasized Sami’s identity as a Muslim. Though he has travelled to Canada, once again Sami finds himself  to be the only Muslim in the area. As a reader, this paragraph has taught me that Sami is conscious and embarrassed of who he is. He is constantly aware of, and examines his surroundings. Being a Muslim is difficult for him; he is afraid of being scrutinized and standing out. This passage has further formed the mood of the story. No one, not even Sami’s closest friend, Andy, understands his struggles. Andy is incapable of seeing issues from Sami’s perspective. This passage has shown me that truly, Sami is all alone. He is frustrated, tension and fear are building inside of him.


Passage #2: Chapter 14-Pg.114:

“‘Lies!’ Dad yells. ‘Lies, lies, lies! It’s all lies with you! Secrets and lies!’

 ‘Look who’s talking!’ I hear the words. Are they still in my head? Or did I actually say them?

Dad backs up, breathing heavy. I guess I said them.

‘What do you mean?’ he dares me.

If I say what I know… what I think…

I glance over at mom. She’s afraid. What does she know, think?

‘I said, what do you mean?’ Dad repeats.

I look straight at him. ‘Guess.’

There’s a flicker of fear in his eyes.”

This passage is a significant moment in the story. The tension that has built within Sami has finally been released. He has voiced his suspicions against his Dad. The dialogues between Sami and his Dad emphasize their inability to trust each other. During this passage, Sami is established as a rebellious, disrespectful child. He has broken the “perfect” family image by yelling at his Dad and accusing him. This passage further foreshadows towards the upcoming events of the story. Sami has blamed his Dad of holding secrets and lies, who in turn has reacted with fear. As a reader, when analysing this passage, I asked multiple questions.  “What has Sami accused his father of?” “What is his Dad hiding and or lying about?” “Why has Sami’s Dad reacted to his accusations with fear?”

Passage #3: Chapter 14-Pg. 115

“I see Dad throw back his shoulders.

I hear him say, ‘I have no son.’

I see him storm out of the room.

And I see Mom look at me, bewildered.

I look back, ashamed. Ashamed for having lied to her, for bringing the cops, for opening a door into a place we’re all afraid to go.”

This passage is a turning point in the story. Sami’s Dad has denounced him, as a result, the tension in the story has mounted. The unstable relationship between Sami and his Dad has accelerated. Sami has further acknowledged that his family has entered uncharted territory. A place that they have never been, a place that is unusual, frightening and uncomfortable. Sami’s Dad has stated, “I have no son.” While reading this phrase, I was prompted to ask myself multiple questions. “How will this affect the lives of the Sabiri’s?” “What are the consequences of this proclamation going to be?” “How will the conflicts between Sami and his dad be resolved?”

Borderline Week #1: Word Wizard-Abiha

1.) Chapter 1-Pg. 4

“Mom’s green silk hijab is folded loosely on top; she only wears it at mosque and prayers-a big relief, as far as I’m concerned.”

A ‘hijab’ is a headscarf, similar to the word ‘veil’. It covers the hair, ears and neck. Predominantly worn by Muslim women and young girls as a sign of modesty. This word establishes the identity of Sami’s Mom as a Muslim. The quote the word is embedded in allows readers to know and understand that Sami’s Mom is a moderate, modernized Muslim.

2.) Chapter 1-Pg. 6

“Before Mary Louise Prescott, things were normal.”

The word ‘normal’ is defined as the usual, typical and expected standard. It is what people are used to, their daily behaviour or routine. The way and moment in which Sami has used the word is significant to the story. Sami has indicated that the relationship between him and his father was better, different. A relationship that was easy, light and fun.

3.) Chapter 2-Pg. 9

“Our mosque is a half-hour drive away in Rochester, so I never got to hang out with the kids from my Saturday morning madrasa.”

The word ‘madrasa’ is an Arabic word used for a religious educational institute. This word emphasizes that the Sabiris are a religious family. Sami attends a ‘madrasa’ and learns about his religion of Islam. The use of this word by the author further expresses that Sami is secluded. He spends Saturday at the madrasa, as a result, he is unable to spend time with kids from his school and the neighborhood. He has not established a strong, positive relationship with the people in his community.

4.) Chapter 2-Pg. 13

“‘Why did those boys call you ‘Prophet‘?'”

The word ‘Prophet’ is a title used for people who are chosen to speak to God. These people convey God’s message to the believers and provide guidance and support. They are the teachers of religion. Sami’s friends, Andy and Marty, initially nicknamed him ‘Prophet’. In the quotation provided above, Sami’s Dad is questioning the use of the word. The author has established that Sami’s Dad is religious. He finds the word ‘Prophet’ to be sacred, a word that holds importance and must be respected.

5.) Chapter 3-Pg. 25

“‘I’ll make it up to both of you, Inshallah,’ Dad says.”

‘Inshallah’ is a word derived from the Arabic language. It means if Allah (God) wills. By using this word, Sami’s Dad has established his firm belief in the religion of Islam. He has made it clear that things will only happen, that they are only possible if Allah (God) wills them to be. Once again, the use of this word indicates the religious personality of Sami’s Dad.