The Search for Us | Susan Azim Boyer


The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer

To be released on October 24 2023 from Macmillan Publishers; 304 pages

Content Warning: Alcohol addiction, drunk driving, discussions of islamophobia/anti-Iranian sentiments post-9/11, mentions of war in Afghanistan, mentions of PTSD and generational trauma

About the Author: “Susan Azim Boyer (she/her), author of Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win, writes young adult fiction featuring Iranian American heroines she *never* encountered growing up, who make messy, complicated choices that rapidly snowball into avalanches. She hails from Nebraska but grew up in Los Angeles before spending several years in San Francisco and the next twenty in Sonoma County. She now lives in the Coachella Valley with her husband, Wayne, and her Pug mix, Teddy. Their son, Alec, lives in New York” (Bio from author’s website).

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“They were family. And now that they had found each other, they were never letting go.”

Samira Murphy, a self-described “overfunctioner,” is navigating her senior year of high school while handling all of the responsibilities for her household on the side. Fearing her family will crumble when she leaves for university, if she can even afford tuition, Samira orders a DNA test kit and begins the search to find her absent father, who her gran steadfastly refuses to talk about. Meanwhile, Henry Owen is trying hard to make his adoptive parents happy, but yearns for a deeper connection to his Iranian heritage and elusive birth father. Ordering a DNA test in search of an explanation to why his father left, Henry’s results reveal a half-sister set on answering the very same question. Forming a hesitant but strong connection that soon leads to a fast-paced road trip, Samira and Henry embark on a journey to find the answers they both truly desire in their search for their father.

The Search for Us moves fast, yet I quickly found myself reading it even faster. From the beginning of the story, the reader is thrown right into the lives of both Samira and Henry, learning the true motivations of each character long before they work up the courage to reveal them to each other or anyone else in their lives. While raised separately and in very different living situations, I liked seeing similarities in the personalities of each sibling: both do everything they can to make their loved ones happy, yet feel hesitant to ask for any assistance or support in return. I also liked that Samira and Henry gradually began to ask more and more of each other and turn to each other for support they previously could not find in their immediate surroundings. Their dynamic was very touching to witness as it developed. While Samira and Henry’s journey does not conclude with the perfect, fairytale ending they may have hoped for, they discover that their mission to find their father was always to uncover more about themselves and what it truly means to be family. Overall, The Search for Us was an engaging read featuring realistically complex families and distinct characters that grow and develop as the story progresses. I would recommend The Search for Us to any fans of YA craving a poignant, engaging read about the importance of family, heritage, and personal identity that they can devour in one sitting.

PRR Writer and Web Team Member, Emma Conner