A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Samira Ahmed's Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, is a story about 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet, solving an art history mystery in Paris while also solving the mysteries of her own love life. Half-Indian, half-French Khayyam has a passion for art, and wants to uncover a story that she knows is out there -- and a very cute boy might just be at her side while she's doing it. There are graphic depictions of kissing and mild swearing throughout, including "s--t" and "a--hole," and mentions of smoking marijuana, but the main character herself does not smoke.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, Khayyam Maquet is in Paris with a broken heart and still reeling from humiliation at an art history competition that was supposed to be the golden key to her dreams. When she runs into a boy that might just have the answers to solve the art history mystery of her dreams -- and who happens to be very cute -- it seems like the summer might just turn around. She and Alexandre embark on a summer of discovery, adventure, history and heartbreak, exploring Paris' nooks and crannies, while learning about the complicated history of art and the oppression in the untold stories of women. This summer is full of surprises, some good and some bad, teaching her how to stand up for herself, her voice and her story.
Is it any good?
This endearing story is well-written and impeccably weaves history into Khayyam's coming-of-age. Khayyam is a strong but vulnerable character, and teens will relate to a lot of the internal conflict that she deals with -- about her goals, romantic relationships, and her own identity. This novel deals with colonialism, sexism, and racism, especially the historical roots, in a very approachable way, and readers will learn how important these topics are in understanding history. Readers will also get a realistic glimpse into French and Indian culture, and how they inform Khayyam's life as a child of immigrants.
The romantic relationships in Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know will keep readers entertained. Will she choose the cute, easy option, or will she try and make it work with a boy she has her own history with? While the love stories are charming and engaging, they don't overwhelm the story, and the positive messages are clear and meaningful. Socially aware teens will see a lot of the same questions that they ask themselves, and relate to her struggles. The art history can be dense at times, for those unfamiliar with the context, but readers will learn a lot from the stories of Dumas, Delacroix and Leila.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Khayyam, who's bi-racial, often feels stuck between many different identities. How are the identities in your own life sometimes conflicting? Have you ever felt like you are not enough of one identity, like Khayyam talks about?
Why do you think the stories and voices of women are often overshadowed, especially in history? Why do you think it's so important to Khayyam to tell Leila's story? What's the importance of owning and telling your own story?
Do you ever feel discouraged by your goals like Khayyam does at the beginning? What goals and passions do you have, and how do you think you can get where you want to go?
- Author: Samira Ahmed
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Activism, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, High School, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Soho Teen
- Publication date: April 7, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: April 2, 2021
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