Relatable, Thrilling and Tangible - Saira Zariwala Is Afraid By Shabnam Minwalla

A teenage girl lacking self-confidence, with a history of anxiety, being constantly bullied by 'friends' and supported by two few real friends. Saira Zariwala afraid by Shabnam Minwalla is all about her - Saira. I know her. She is there inside me, you and everyone. The insecurities we breed.

Saira Zariwala is Afraid Review

Saira Zariwala is Afraid by Shabnam Minwalla

Saira gets a new phone. But soon the happiness of having a new gadget fades because the number she got has been used by someone else, who is astounding, who had numerous secrets and a bunch of friends with a can of worms. Without any practical support from the police, Saira decides to start her search for Aakash.

Thenceforth unfolds an eerie, nail-biting, heart-thumping set of events. The book reminded me at several places, Nancy Drew. The brave smart girl who ventures into the most dangerous circumstances to find the truth. On the contrary, Saira is brimful of insecurities. Nonetheless how she overcomes the fear can be a guide and eye-opener to many teenagers out there who would be fighting similar demons.

The narrative is the protagonist

The plot is guided and kept in that by the style of narration. Quirky anecdotes of Saira would pull the readers to sail in a shaky boat anchored with humour amidst unrelenting rain and storms. Saira defines the people around her in a character craft that reminded me of Arundhati Roy.
I can go on and on about the book because this is one piece of literature that made me lose my sleep over it. I read and re-read the passages to fully imbibe the beauty of it.

Saira's soliloquy proves the author's craft. Starting from the character portrayal of her brother Tariq the narrative keeps the plot on leash. There is a judgemental self-obsessed friend in everyone's life, whom we endure despite knowing that they despise us. Or is it just me and Saira.

Saira's obsession with Siddharth of class ten and nearly tangible apathy towards his interest in her is the passive portrayal of the inherent insecurities of the character.

The suspense that is never lost

The suspense behind the mission of Aakash and intermittent jerks with an explosion, a psychopath listener, and the bunch of celebrities in Aaakash's circle whom Saira acquaints through he chats in the Whatsapp groups holds the interest of the readers till the end. The revelation in the climax comes out like a bolt from the dark. Coming to think of it, I think it could have been guessed if it was a visual media presentation like movie or web series. Despite the impeccable suspense, the sequences in the climax however succumbed to the overworked cliche and hence dipped the graph slightly.
Having piqued the towering interest of the readers, this comes as a disappointment though not a major one.

Overall the book is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. Despite being Children's fiction, it endears the adults alike.

I am in love with Saira Zariwala. Thank you, Harpercollins for this copy.

Author profile

Shabnam Minwalla writes books for children.
These include:
`The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street'
`The Strange Haunting of Model High School'
`The Shy Supergirl'
`Lucky Girl'
`What Maya Saw'
`Nimmi's Spectabulous Schooldays'
`When Jiya Met Urmila'
Her short stories are included in numerous anthologies. She is also a journalist and columnist with a number of Indian newspapers and magazines. She is a former Senior Assistant Editor with the Times of India in Mumbai.
Shabnam did her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
She did her Bachelors in Economics, Statistics and Mathematics at St Xavier's College in Mumbai


  1. Oooo sometimes children book turns out to be a great read.

  2. Eerie mystery with an adventure? Sounds the perfect combination and if its anything like Nancy Drew I would love to pick it up and give it a go.

  3. Children's fiction and Thriller, isn't it an interesting combo dear. I am adding this to my TBR as I know I will love to read it. By the way little Kamala loved it or not?

  4. Love the sound of it. Will definitely read this. I am exploring children's book recently. This is a good addition.

  5. Great review. I'll suggest this to my niece and nephew. They may like it. Thanks

  6. Give me a break, Rakhi Jayashankar!!! My tbr will fall on my head if I keep adding more of your book recommendations but again, I will add this too🀣🀣. Great post and I love how you review booksπŸ€—πŸ€—.

  7. I've this book on my TBR because I like to read such books that have anxiety and motivation at the same time :)

  8. Don't know about the story but the cover is simply brilliant and mysterious. Would love to give this a read.

  9. This is a nice rare combo of children's fiction and mystery. Would like to read this book. Thank you for the recommendation

  10. The teenage girl story is fascinating. Moreover, the author has tried hard to describe the problems that teen girls usually face. The review is very helpful.

  11. Di saw this book on your insta story and was overwhelmed a it about this . As you said in you reveiw about getting reminded of Arundhuti Roy which made my dimples show up. And also nail bitting thriller which is perfect for me. ❤️

  12. Very well written review. This sounds to be a perfect mixture of mystery, suspense and horror. I'll add this to my TBR.

  13. Fiction and Thriller this is my favourite, I love reading such books. I am checking this one out right away.

  14. Thank you for the recommendation. I have never tried books like this . would give it a try.

  15. This sounds interesting. As a teen girl it would be a great fit for me. Would love to read this book. Thank you for reviewing.

  16. Fiction and thrill is such an awesome combination..
    Really liked the way you have reviewed....this looks like a must read.

  17. Every book you choose for review has something interesting to teach. I always look forward to read your recommended books. Keep them coming buddy😊

  18. Wow, this book seems so gripping and intriguing. I like books that keeps the readers on the edge.

  19. Till the end you won't be able to find,who actually the listener is... Excellent narration..Best work done by shabnam till now.. Definitely a movie should be made on this plot..It's a treat to read.. Worth reading πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Š


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