Skip to main content

Rebels by Accident


Rebels by Accident

Miriam is struggling to fit in.  She's the only Egyptian American at her school, which makes her a target for bullies.  Deanna, Miriam's best friend, is also subject to teasing.  She has a physical deformity that has left her unable to smile.  But Deanna is far more capable of defending herself.  More than anything, Miriam wants to have Deanna's strength --- or at least just be "normal."  She and Deanna decide to sneak into a party, which at first seems to be the perfect escape from Miriam's overprotective parents.  But when drugs and alcohol are discovered by the police at the party, it seems to have the opposite effect.  Both Miriam and Deanna are sent to live with Miriam's strict grandmother in Egypt.  It soon becomes clear that Miriam's grandmother --- and her country --- are nothing they could have expected.  They are in a country brewing with revolution --- and a courage that could change Miriam forever.

REBELS BY ACCIDENT is an extremely fast-paced novel.  The setting is constantly changing and the book is driven by action and conflict.  The advantage of this writing style is that the reader is never bored.  REBELS BY ACCIDENT is one of the more adventure-filled realistic fiction novels I have read and it provides an introduction to the Arab Spring that young adult readers can understand and relate to.  Primarily, though, it is a coming-of-age story.  By witnessing the bravery of some of the citizens of Egypt, seeing the love of her grandmother and being forced to become more independent, Miriam grows as a person and comes to respect her culture.

REBELS BY ACCIDENT is one of the more adventure-filled realistic fiction novels I have read

However, the quick pace, coupled with the characters’ extreme changes of opinion, made REBELS BY ACCIDENT feel rushed.  The author's style provided a book filled with suspense but, unfortunately, one without as much realism or depth of description.  I thought that the events of the novel took place within a month or so (still a remarkably short time for a book to span), but at the end it is mentioned that the characters only spent five days in Egypt!  Miriam had no relationship with Sittu, her grandmother, before coming to Egypt, but completely bonds with her in that time frame.  Similarly, almost all of the main characters fall in love during their time in Egypt.  These elements do make the book more uplifting, but it is unrealistic that the characters come to understand each other so suddenly.  It would have been beneficial to the book if Miriam had more time to explore Egypt and interact with Sittu, so she could more realistically come to love her heritage.  But, despite the fact that character relations were formed quickly, most of the characters were lively and relatable.

Although REBELS BY ACCIDENT does give a feeling of the nature of the Egyptian revolution, it does not give the reader a full understanding and knowledge of the actual events involved.  The book should have been supplemented by an author's note that gave more historical information and referred interested readers to nonfiction books on the subject.

REBELS BY ACCIDENT would be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in current and past events in the Middle East or anyone looking for a book about a teenager coming to realize who she is.

Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member on December 10, 2014

Rebels by Accident
by Patricia Dunn

  • Publication Date: December 2, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • ISBN-10: 1492601381
  • ISBN-13: 9781492601388