But Zeitoun is worth reading. Yes, its plot can be quickly summarized, and you would probably be able to get by in a class discussion by just reading a quick recap on SparkNotes. But, you would be missing the main point of the whole “Two Schools, One Book” initiative.
This project was not designed to give kids torturous summer reading or to add discussions and essay topics to an English class curriculum.
No, it was created to give all students a common learning experience which, in this case, included a major lesson: ignorance is not always bliss.
In the book, the character Zeitoun is arrested. He and three of his friends, one of whom is Muslim like Zeitoun himself, are all staying together in a house, which had access to a phone. This situation causes suspicion among a group of policemen.
Despite his complete innocence, Zeitoun and his Muslim friend were forced to spend over three weeks in prison. They were racially profiled, and the cops who arrested them came to the conclusion that, because they were Muslim and were frequently making calls, they must be up to no good.
This lesson is especially important to our generation. After Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, racial profiling hightened. The terrorist attacks on this country seemed to cause more people to make assumptions about a person based on his or her race or culture.
Reading books, such as Zeitoun, that give real-life examples of how someone’s ignorance can affect another’s life, emphasizes the consequences of racial profiling.
To anyone who still has not read Zeitoun: read it. Although your teacher might not be enforcing it anymore, it is a worth-while read.
Its lesson of being able to look beyond someone’s race or ethnicity is one that cannot be conveyed in a one paragraph summary or a friend’s brief overview. It needs to be read, thought about and discussed in order for one to grasp its crucial lesson.