What is the summary for Ask Me No Questions by Marina Tamar Budhos?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Ask Me No Questions - A Summary

Ask Me No Questions, a Young Adult novel by Marina Tamar Budhos, tells the story of fourteen-year-old Nadira and her older sister, eighteen-year-old Aisha. It tells the story of the lives that develop when the words "green card," "deportation" and, hopefully, "asylum" hang over the heads of a family of illegal immigrants. Living peacefully--but secretively--in New York City on expired visas, Nadir, Aisha and their parents face a radically changed reality when the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks alters their fates forever.

Their father, Abba, takes his family from New York and tries to escape the post-terrorism climate in the U.S. by fleeing across the Canada-U.S. border to seek refuge in Canada. Crossing the border, Abba's name red-flags a U.S. Immigration alert. He is arrested for being a possible terrorism suspect because of his ethnic, religious and national background and because he once donated $3000 to the Islamic mosque at which he and his family worshiped.

The girls are sent back to New York while their mother is detained in a shelter, and they are told to live with their uncle and aunt and continue as though everything were normal. Aisha is usually calm and sure of herself while Nadira is usually less in control of things. When Aisha loses all her confidence, the younger, less sure Nadira steps up to find the solutions and the gumption that they need to fight the odds against them.

Nadira leads Aisha in their fight to have the immigration court recognize the error made regarding their father's name and in the fight to get Aisha into college by actually turning up at her college interview. As proof of the power of Nadira's new stance in life, of the power of fighting back against error and injustice and of the power of seeing things as they are while dreaming of things as they might be, Aisha admits in her graduation valedictorian speech that, as an illegal immigrant and as a Muslim, she, her family and the citizens of the United States all want the same thing: They all want a future that holds the potential for good and for peaceful living.

Marina Tamar Budhos - A Biography

The daughter of an Indian-Guyanese father and a Jewish-American mother, Marina Tamar Budhos was born a citizen of the U.S. in Queens, New York, while her father, a diplomat, was employed for India at the Indian Consulate in Manhattan. As a child of a diplomat, she grew up in the multiracial and multicultural environment built for the families serving the United Nations and New York consulates. These early and deeply impressed experiences shape her view of the world and the topics she writes about, as is evidenced by Ask Me No Questions, the story of an illegal Muslim family still living in New York after 9/11.

Budhos has been a Fulbright lecturer in India and has won many literary awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation and The Kenyon Review awards. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and recently won the Exceptional Media Merit Award for an article published in Ms. about Asia's trafficking in sex tourism.

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