The Search for Us
Susan Azim Boyer
Published October 24, 2023
About The Search for Us
“A sharp-witted and illuminating, impressive sophomore novel.” – Isaac Blum, author of the award-nominated The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
Two half-siblings who have never met embark on a search together for the Iranian immigrant and U.S. Army veteran father they never knew.
Samira Murphy will do anything to keep her fractured family from falling apart, including caring for her widowed grandmother and getting her older brother into recovery for alcohol addiction. With attendance at her dream college on the line, she takes a long shot DNA test to find the support she so desperately needs from a father she hasn’t seen since she was a baby.
Henry Owen is torn between his well-meaning but unreliable bio-mom and his overly strict aunt and uncle, who stepped in to raise him but don’t seem to see him for who he is. Looking to forge a stronger connection to his own identity, he takes a DNA test to find the one person who might love him for exactly who he is―the biological father he never knew.
Instead of a DNA match with their father, Samira and Henry are matched with each other. They begin to search for their father together and slowly unravel the difficult truth of their shared past, forming a connection that only siblings can have and recovering precious parts of their past that have been lost. Brimming with emotional resonance, Susan Azim Boyer’s THE SEARCH FOR US beautifully renders what it means to find your place in the world through the deep and abiding power of family.
Stories about the power of family, both found family and biological family, always hit me deep. This book is no exception. It has a lot of layers, which I think is hard to do well, but is well done here. The story feels full rather than crowded. The issues Henry and Samira face tie together and bring them together in unexpected ways.
As a person who grew up with a view of alcoholism in my extended family, a lot of things in the story about Samira and her impulses and beliefs really resonated with me. I liked the way the story addressed her codependency and tendency to “over-function” or control situations.
The chapters alternate between Samira’s and Henry’s points of view. I really liked both of them as characters, so it was really easy to get into the story. The chapters each had so much going on that I felt propelled from one to the next all the way to the end of the book. It felt like a really quick read.
All in all, I loved the messages about family, forgiveness, and relationships in this book. I think readers who enjoyed books like YOU’D BE HOME NOW by Kathleen Glasgow or YOU HAVE A MATCH by Emma Lord will love this one.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Henry and Samira are biracial, both Iranian and white. Samira’s best friend identifies as bisexual. Henry’s girlfriend, Linh, is Vietnamese and adopted by white parents.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Kissing between boy and girl. Brief statement about “roaming hands” during a makeout session between a boy and girl. Samira’s best friend describes crushes on both boys and girls.
A man discusses his experience with Islamophobia. Someone defaces his Koran. He’s not allowed to pray when he should be able to.
Some references to Islamophobia. Henry fights a boy in a hockey game and later hits a man in a gas station he perceives as threatening.
Samira’s brother and two other relatives have alcohol use disorder. Henry’s girlfriend, Linh, smokes weed.
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