House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of pages: 320
Publishing: November 29th, 2022
Source: Jackie Karneth at Books Forward via NetGalley
Opening Line: "There's a lot to a memory."
Sara is a teenager of Uzbek Afghan heritage. Ever since her parents announced they're getting divorced she's been struggling with trying to adjust to the changes and dealing with her own feelings of guilt for the role she might've played in their divorce. Normally Sara would get advice from her grandmother, Bibi Jan, but she's been deteriorating ever since she was diagnosed with Dementia. To offset her sadness, Sara has been helping her mother with her house-flipping business, taking care of the social media aspects of the business, while her mom does the logistics and manages the labor. While at one of her mom's latest home renovation projects, Sara uncovers that the house they're rebuilding holds many secrets, one that might even be linked with her own families past. Sara also comes face to face with the ghost of her grandmother and begins to realize that the answers to the secrets she hopes to retrieve may be trapped somewhere in Bibi Jan's memories. To better understand herself and her family's history, Sara has to bring these secrets into the light.
I don't usually read much YA, but I was instantly captured by the premise of House of Yesterday, an intergenerational ghost story and knew it would be an incredible read. What struck me first about the book was the emphasis on memories. Both happy and the one's that we try to forget because of how unpleasant they are, even the ones that escape us because of dementia. Sara is haunted by her desire to unravel these memories and to find the truth behind the secrets that she feels her family is hiding. Sara initially pushes away everyone who tries to help, her cousin's and Sam a boy she knew growing up. I was quite concerned for her often feeling her pain in trying to piece together the past. It's also the story of a girl trying to better understand herself, her Afghan Uzbek heritage and how she fits into the United States. It's confronting those things that we bury that are hard, and that burying hard feelings doesn't make them go away. Sometimes we need to face them to go on. It's an emotionally impactful story, a coming of age and dealing with the ghosts of one's past. While the story is haunted by grief and secrets, it does have an uplifting and satisfying ending. I'm especially excited to hear that Deeba Zargarpur is working on a middle grade book titled, Farrah Noorzad and the Ring of Fate which has Farrah discovering her distant father is a jinn king after she traps him in a magical ring. The story will release sometime in 2024 from a brand-new imprint dedicated to showcasing epic journeys (fantastical and emotional), Labyrinth Road.
**A huge thank you to Jackie Karneth at Books Forward for the E-ARC via NetGalley **