Title: Huda Was Here
Author: H. Hayek
Published: April, 2023
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle Fiction
I received a copy of Huda Was Here from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Huda hatches a bold plan to help her dad get a job – which lands her and her brother in all kinds of trouble. A delightful and hilarious story from a CBCA award-winning author, about a lion-hearted girl who just wants the best for her family.
Huda and Akeal’s father loses his job as a local community security guard in their Melbourne suburb and ends up taking a new job in Fremantle (across the country). Upset that their father has moved away and their life now looks very different, Huda hatches a plan – and drags Akeal along for the ride – to get their father back. If they commit acts of vandalism around the neighbourhood, maybe he’ll come home to his job again?
Huda Was Here by H. Hayek is the follow up book to 2021’s Huda and Me, the story of two siblings from a Lebanese-Australian Muslim family, who consistently find themselves doing outrageous things in the name of love and family. Huda was Here is definitely one of Huda’s bolder plans, and poor Akeal spends a lot of the book trying to rationalise that their bad behaviour choices are done in the name of their favour.
There’s a very strong thread of family and family connections and the strain that the loss of a job and financial stress places on a family (especially one with seven children). I really enjoyed spending more time with all of the members of Huda and Akeal’s family, getting to know them further after reading the first book. I continue to love Huda’s audacious plans and the way she’s constantly thinking 2-3 steps ahead of everyone around her. We also get to meet a lot of new characters from their community, widening the scope of the story – and also allowing for the community corruption element to be laid out.
It’s a fun, entertaining read, with wonderfully strong young people, high ideals and great Muslim representation. It would definitely make a great classroom read-aloud, and could prompt some very interesting class discussions.