Towelhead

Thirteen-year-old Jasira’s sexual explorations are the truest gauge of her emotional state in ALICIA ERIAN’S brassy novel TOWELHEAD (Simon & Schuster). She is variously transported when she discovers the Big O, confused and hurt by a predatory neighbor, and finally satisfied by her first real boyfriend in this no-holds-barred fiction set against the sprawling suburbs of Houston (think NASA scientists). Former Austinite Erian pushes all the hot buttons, playing the race card without fear. Jasira’s father, a Lebanese immigrant prone to irrational rage, explodes when the neighbor’s son calls her a “towelhead.” But he forbids Jasira to date classmate Thomas because he’s black. It’s a complicated world, and Jasira can’t decide whether to fight or retreat. Dark and funny, the story flows like quicksilver—fast and unstoppable— to its inevitable conclusion.

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