THE SEARCH FOR US: A NOVEL, by Susan Azim Boyer, Wednesday Books, Oct. 24, 2023, Hardcover, $21 (young adult)
Two teens discover the existence of a half-sibling while searching for their father in The Search for Us, a young adult novel by Susan Azim Boyer.
Samira Murphy will do anything to keep her fractured family from falling apart, including caring for her widowed grandmother and getting her older brother into recovery for alcohol addiction. With attendance at her dream college on the line, she takes a long shot DNA test to find the support she so desperately needs from a father she hasn’t seen since she was a baby.
Henry Owen is torn between his well-meaning but unreliable bio-mom and his overly strict aunt and uncle, who stepped in to raise him but don’t seem to see him for who he is. Looking to forge a stronger connection to his own identity, he takes a DNA test to find the one person who might love him for exactly who he is―the biological father he never knew.
Instead of a DNA match with their father, Samira and Henry are matched with each other. They begin to search for their father together and slowly unravel the difficult truth of their shared past, forming a connection that only siblings can have and recovering precious parts of their past that have been lost. —Synopsis provided by Wednesday Books
The Search for Us is one of those novels that sort of sits with you as you read it and after completion. Everything about the circumstances Samira and Henry find themselves in is messy and complicated and makes perfect sense in this sort of senseless world.
Samira is very much someone who needs to feel stability. The only way she can accomplish that is by being in control. But when she’s faced with things over which she can’t regulate, her body literally has an allergic reaction. Samira is smart, determined and has given it her all — but it’s not enough.
Henry feels like he’s never “enough.” Stuck in between the mother who gave him up and the aunt and uncle who raised him, he can never please everyone. Henry’s “adoptive” parents feel aloof, and he always feels like he’s doing thing for them and letting them down.
The common link between Samira and Henry is their father, an Iranian immigrant and U.S. Army veteran who got into trouble in Afghanistan. As the two search out their father, they realize how much having a half-sibling means to them. There’s a comradery that’s sort of built in, even though they’re practically strangers themselves.
In The Search for Us, author Susan Azim Boyer has crafted a compelling character study that is hard to put down. It feels deeply personal, and it’s easy to connect with her protagonists. The ending does feel a bit too “clean” for a lack of a better word. I wasn’t expecting this messy thing to feel quite so wrapped up, but that wouldn’t stop me from recommending it.
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