“Powerful… Excellent”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A great fast-paced read.”

SLJ, starred review


An explosive thriller ripped from today’s headlines.

Sami Sabiri is the only Muslim kid in his school. When the FBI descends on his home, Sami’s family becomes the centre of an international terrorist investigation, and Sami must fight to save his father, his family and his life.

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“Printz Honor-winning Stratton (Chanda’s Secrets) explores the genesis of and fallout from racial and religious discrimination in this thriller about a Muslim boy’s life, which is turned on its head when his father is accused of collaborating with Islamic terrorists in a plot to contaminate the water supplies in New York City and Toronto. But 15-year-old Mohammed ‘Sami’ Sabiri has more to worry about than the resulting media circus and his father’s incarceration. How can he avoid being bullied at school? How will his mother support the family after being fired? And are the allegations about his father true or are they the result of a scared community and a government embracing prejudice at its worst? When Sami goes undercover to verify his father’s innocence, the story reaches a fist-clenching pinnacle before a conclusion that should defy readers’ expectations. Despite the sensitive subject matter and potential for sensationalistic writing, Stratton proceeds with a steady hand. It’s a powerful story and excellent resource for teaching tolerance, with a message that extends well beyond the timely subject matter. Ages 12 & up.”

 Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Fifteen-year-old Sami Sabiri is a typical suburban teen. He is a good student, has a close group of friends, and struggles to live up to his father’s expectations. He faces some bullying at school because of his Muslim faith, and does not get the support from the administration to stop it. When his dad cancels a planned trip to Toronto with him, Sami begins to suspect he might be having an affair. He checks up on him and unknowingly stirs up a completely different investigation of the man’s behavior. Is Sami’s dad a terrorist? What ensues is a tautly paced thriller with well-crafted characters and realisitic teen dialogue. It is the plausibility of the plotline that makes it, ultimately, so distrubing. The FBI breaks into the Sabiris’ house one night, destroys their belongings, and takes Sami’s father away. The teen’s troubles at school are neatly juxtaposed with the assumptions made by the FBI about his dad, and ultimately lead toward a positive resolution to Sami’s relationship with his father. This is a great, fast-paced read that will have particular appeal to fans of the television show 24. It is also notable for its characterization of a strong male Muslim who is true to his faith and struggles to do the right thing throughout. While the cover art is not compelling, this title will make an excellent booktalk. Once it finds its way into the hands of teens, word of mouth will ensure that it circulates.”

 School Library Journal (starred review)

“The first half of this tense and compelling novel treads familiar ground: the catch-22 of bullying. Fifteen-year-old Sami, whose father was born in Iran, is regularly harassed by a group of guys who call him a “sand monkey”. But if he turns them in, not only will the beatings worsen but there could be fallout with his family, too — his strict father has worked so hard to become a respected part of the community. The escalating violence at school increases the stress at home; his father now ignores Sami even when together on prayer rugs. Stratton’s grasp of daily Muslim life breaths new life into this story line before unleashing a whole new hell: a late-night FBI raid that implicates Sami’s father in an international terror ring known as the Brotherhood of Martyrs. Stratton’s ever-readable prose is peppered with Sami’s believable inner-dialogue, and the social fallout, plot twists, and even Sami’s renewed interest in his religion all feel authentic. A fast, exciting read with weighty underpinnings.”


“As in Chanda’s Secrets (2004) and Chanda’s Wars (2008), Stratton explodes with political relevance, this time exploring the dangers that are more familiar to American readers – or should be. Fifteen-year-old Sami, a Muslim, lives in a white suburb outside Rochester, N.W. Schoolmates call him “sand monkey” and bully him. When Sami’s father nervously can’t explain why he changes a Toronto father-son trip into a solo excursion, the text subtly invokes contemporary stereotypes to hint at terrorism. The theme slams outward when Homeland Security smashes into Sami’s house one night, tackling Sami, interrogating him in the basement about the Toronto trip and dragging dad to jail. Here the genre jostles awkwardly from YA realism into thriller. Sami’s daring escapades (sneaking across the border; tracking down a hidden alleged terrorist) bring resolution, swapping the plot’s believability for a relieving conclusion. But only the kid-as-hero motif rings fictional – the curtailing of civil rights, the explicit targeting of young Muslim men and the manic, dangerously unchecked power of U.S. and Canadian anti-terrorism forces are deathly realistic dangers in this vitally educational page-turner. (Fiction. YA)”

Kirkus Reviews

“Intelligent… Entertaining… The novel examines with genuine care what it must feel like to be a teenage boy living in an environment in which people of Middle Eastern heritage are suspect by virtue of their looks and religion… Family loyalty, justice, and the shifting nature of truth are all examined in Borderline, and Stratton leads us through Sami’s tribulations with a graceful hand that makes this thought-provoking novel a pleasure to read.”

Quill & Quire (featured review)

“The progression of events in Allan Stratton’s absorbing new coming-of-age tale BORDERLINE — particularly what befalls fifteen-year-old Mohammad Sami ‘Sammy’ Sabiri at the Theodore Roosevelt Academy for Boys — is at times so outrageous and unspeakably evil that there may be skeptics who will argue that such behavior on the part of school administrators and law enforcement authorities could not take place in America today. But those who know their American history will likely respond by citing scores of textbook examples revealing this tale involving Muslim hate mongering in twenty-first century America to be just one more link in a long chain of unfortunate blemishes on the face of our so-called land of liberty. BORDERLINE, set in Rochester, New York, is an eye-opening mystery and adventure story involving what happens before and after the FBI tears apart Sammy’s home and arrests his father as a member of an international terrorist conspiracy ring. Sami has always known his father to be an overly strict but good man. But he just doesn’t know what to think — or what the real truth about his father might be — because, shortly before the FBI raid, he uncovers his own evidence that his father has blatantly lied to him about a business trip to Toronto. The anti-Muslim sentiments that we see Sammy and his parents frequently encountering prior to the surprise raid seduce us into presuming that Sammy’s father is being railroaded. But is he really innocent? It turns out that Sami will find it necessary to take some crazy risks, putting his own safety on the line in order to uncover the truth about his father’s involvement in the alleged plot.”

 Richie’s Picks

“Borderline, a young adult thriller by Allan Stratton, does an excellent job of exploring what happens when individuals are judged not for who they are, but rather for the group to which they belong. The lesson, a profound one, is to weigh the evidence carefully and consider an individual’s qualities of character, but the presence of a lesson does not impede Borderline from providing page-turning excitement sure to entertain many adolescent readers aged thirteen plus.”

 CM Magazine

“A page-turning mystery… Stratton, author of the acclaimed Chanda’s Secrets and Chanda’s Wars, knows when to make his points on religious and cultural tolerance, and when to let the story take over.The message is subtle enough to be a good instruction tool for parents and teachers, while keeping kids on the edge of their seats.”

 The Globe and Mail

“Stratton offers us authentic characters divided by various lines including race, religion, gender and sexual preference, in a seamless story of intrigue and coming-of-age. What is so compelling about this read is that its lesson is merely a byproduct of an excellent plot-driven tale composed by a master storyteller.”

 Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

“A compelling coming-of-age novel about acceptance, The Other, and fear, wrapped in a fascinating adventure/thriller/mystery. All these elements are shaken mightily in Allan Stratton’s latest — as are we.”

 Gary Schmidt, Newberry and Printz Honor Winner for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

“Smart, meticulously plotted, and thrilling. The scariest thing about Borderline is how utterly believable it is.”

 Tim Wynne-Jones, author of The Uninvited

USA: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2010

CANADA: Harper Trophy Canada, 2010

GERMANY: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv), 2010

FRANCE: Bayard Jeunesse, 2011

American Library Association’s Best Fiction For Young Adults, 2011

Tayshas Best Reading List, 2010

White Pine Award Finalist (2011)

Resource Links: Best Books list

Canadian Library Association: Best Young Adult Fiction Award (nominee)

Bank Street’s Best Books of the Year list, 2011

Arthur Ellis Award (nominee)

Florida Reads (nominee)