Mohammed couldn’t wait to visit New York City. He dreamed of the Statue of Liberty at night and during the day he fantasized about the grand city and all that he would do and see there. Plans were underway for the eighth grader to take a trip with the Young Engineers Club of his junior high school but then 9/11 happened.
How Mohammed Saved Miss Liberty is the story of a Muslim family in small-town Ohio. M.S. Holm tells of the friendships and hardships Mohammed and his family encounter in the aftermath of the tragic events.
The small community feels confusion anger and immense sadness at the loss of lives. Mohammed’s father knows times will be difficult for a while. He tells Mohammed “Son trouble comes when people are blinded by anger and hate when they cannot see the good men differently from the bad ones. We are Muslims—peace-loving Muslims—and we are Americans too. Everything will be all right for us. Tawakkul ‘ala Allah.”
But things aren’t all right for the Ahmed family. Mohammed endures jokes hatred snickers and even physical violence. His father’s business Ahmed’s Automotive is boycotted bringing financial problems to the family. To make matters worse the trip to New York is cancelled.
Holm writes about Mohammed and his family with much attention to detail and cultural nuance. He is knowledgeable about Muslim religious rituals and practices and also gives insight into Mohammed’s mother’s Mexican culture. His storytelling is honest believable and compelling and his likeable characters lead the reader to feel compassion for the family especially in light of the injustice and hatred they encounter.
Holm brings great twists and anticipation to the story building on each of the negative events but also emphasizing the care and love the Mohammed receives from most of his neighbors friends and teachers.
The story reaches its suspenseful climax when Mohammed finally makes it to New York. He plans to visit “Miss Liberty” even though it is not on his club’s agenda and the park has been closed for security reasons. This episode is full of tension risk and determination.
How Mohammed Saved Miss Liberty can help show teens and young adults the complexities of relationships and the possibility for good will toward friends neighbors and humanity. It also draws attention to the realities we face in this angry world. While some people choose hatred the world is really full of kindness acceptance and generosity.