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In the Name of God, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2007.
Although Paula Jolin always wanted to be a writer, as she admitted in a BookPage.com interview, as a young adult she "didn't have anything to say." Finding a subject to capture her interest was actually "one of the reasons I started traveling," she admitted. Jolin traveled to many unusual locations while studying for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, including Syria where her first novel takes place. In the Name of God centers on the region's Muslim culture and beliefs; in fact, one of Jolin's hopes in writing the novel was to educate young American readers about a different culture. In her BookPage online interview, Jolin commented that she also wanted to "show someone who's in a place we couldn't imagine being."
Critics have acknowledged In the Name of God for its suspenseful plot and its ability to clearly detail a culture that is foreign to American teens. The novel's main character, Nadia, is a typical seventeen-year-old Muslim who is devout to her religion and to her parents. However, things change for Nadia when her cousin is arrested and mistreated for publicly criticizing the government. Angry, Nadia becomes an extremist and is eventually convinced to become a suicide bomber. In School Library Journal, Kathleen Isaacs regarded Jolin's novel as a "believable depiction of the growth of religious zealotry." Margaret Hall in her review for Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, commented on Jolin's use of journal entries as a way to portray her lead character, and concluded that the first-time novelist creates a "compelling portrayal of the viewpoint of would-be suicide bombers." In Kirkus Reviews a critic acknowledged Jolin for her ability to breathe "life into each of her well-drawn characters and their complicated world."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of In the Name of God, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of In the Name of God.
Library Media Connection, August, 2007, Sheila Acosta, review of In the Name of God, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2007, review of In the Name of God, p. 95.
School Library Journal, April, 2007, Kathleen Issacs, review of In the Name of God, p. 140.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2007, Cindy Faughnan, review of In the Name of God, p. 50.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September-October, 2007, Margaret Hall, review of In the Name of God, p. 64.
BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 15, 2007), "Opening a Window on an Unfamiliar Culture."
Class of 2k7 Web site,http://classof2k7.com/ (December 15, 2007), "Paula Jolin."