It’s hard enough to figure out boys, beauty, and being cool when you’re young, but even harder when you’re in a country where you don’t understand the language, culture, or social norms. Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it’ll be just like every other vacation she’s spent at her dad’s place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father’s growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life. All that on top of maintaining her coolness!
Malaka doesn’t feel like she fits in when she visits her dad–she sticks out in Egypt and doesn’t look anything like her fair-haired half siblings. But she adapts. She learns that Nirvana isn’t as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there’s nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn’t so different from Malaka herself.