A bright bauble you simply must have … you don’t need it and it’s not worth a great deal, but you take it, hiding it in a safe place. Impulse control disorder, under which kleptomania is categorized, is rare but it affects people deeply who deal with it. Aafiyah takes things from her family, the students at school, and sometimes her friends. She can’t seem to help herself. Sometimes she returns the items, but just as often she keeps them. When she steals something important from her best friend’s sister, something they notice is missing, she is revealed. Trust is lost.
A novel in verse, told by Aafiyah, who is immensely likable. We experience her South Asian American Muslim family, her friends at school, and her aquaintances from her own heartfelt, honest narrative. When her father is accused of a crime overseas, he is held and prevented from coming home. Aafiyah’s mom digs in, finds a job, trims the family’s budget, and life is uncertain. A lawyer must be hired and it takes months to wade through the red tape.
As Aafiyah focuses to control her impulses, we experience her challenges from the inside out, in language that is accessible and appealing.
For classrooms, this is a terrific example of a flawed protagonist, but it is so much more. I was sorry to turn the last page and I know young readers will feel the same.
I’m not aware of another children’s book that has a thread of kleptomania in it. Are you?