Finished Here to Stay by Sara Farizan.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“For most of high school, Bijan Majidi has flown under the radar. He gets good grades, reads comics, hangs out with his best friend, Sean, and secretly crushes on Elle, one of the most popular girls in his school. When he’s called off the basketball team’s varsity bench and makes the winning basket in a playoff game, everything changes in an instant.
But not everyone is happy that Bijan is the man of the hour: an anonymous cyberbully sends the entire school a picture of Bijan photoshopped to look like a terrorist. His mother is horrified, and the school administration is outraged. They promise to find and punish the culprit. All Bijan wants is to pretend it never happened and move on, but the incident isn’t so easily erased. Though many of his classmates rally behind Bijan, some don’t want him or his type to be a part of their school. And Bijan’s finding out it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends . . .”
This was such a fascinating book. It’s obviously very timely, as hate crimes are skyrocketing and people are more likely to take everything they see online as true…but the most interesting part for me is the fact that Bijan isn’t an activist. He just wants to play basketball and get through school. He’s not political and doesn’t seem to be particularly religious.
I immediately liked Bijan, but he also feels like a real person. He’s a jerk sometimes, and he can lash out when his feelings are hurt. He’s not perfect, and he definitely can make situations worse instead of better. Because of that, this novel never feels preachy or unrealistic.
I definitely want to read her two other novels and I’m excited to see what her next book is like.