69 pages • 2 hours readWendy Mills
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Symbols & Motifs
Alia is the 16-year-old daughter of a Muslim family that has recently relocated to Brooklyn from California. Her brother, Ridwan, is known as “Ricky” at school and is not public about his religious background. Possessed of a strong imagination and artistic skill, Alia has developed a young, Muslim, female superhero character by the name of “Lia”; this imaginary figure serves as the young woman’s alter-ego, as she navigates the difficulties of practicing her Islam faith while adjusting to the demands of young adulthood in a new environment. She clashes frequently with her mother, an immigration attorney whose professional aspirations precipitate the family’s relocation from California. While Alia is more tolerant of her father, Ayah, he stands with his wife in punishing their daughter when her creative arts high school reports that she was found in the restroom with a former friend, and that both were in possession of marijuana. While subsequent information proves that Alia was a victim of circumstance, her punishment will preclude her participation in a prestigious NYU after-school program.
On the morning of 9/11, she impulsively attempts to visit Ayah, a computer designer, in his Trade Center office in order to persuade him to reconsider allowing her to attend the film seminar at NYU.