Cover Image: The Search for Us

The Search for Us

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Member Reviews

The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer


Yup, I'm a little late I think I actually finished this book 2 weeks ago. So this is a November book. Bad girl!

This is a story of 2 teens that live a 5 hour drive apart that have decided to look for their father. Each for different reasons. So they each decide to do an a DNA test. They both of course decide to use 23 and Me. Instead they found each other. Half siblings. Each teen has cheerleaders on their side to get things going. 

I felt that so many great story/plot opportunities were missed while writing this book. But I liked the story. I liked the way the book ended. I love how this was a story of true "found" family. But unfortunately, didn't feel the pull to keep picking it up. But I will be rounding up for ratings. It does deserve the boost. 

#bookstagram #bookrecommendation #booknerdsbookreview #bookreview
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<i>I received a copy of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.</i>

This is one of the more unique YA books I've read. I've heard stories from classmates and family friends about their discoveries after taking DNA/ancestry tests so it was really cool to see one such story fictionalized.

Henry and Samira are lovely characters! You can't help but adore them and root for them. They're distinct and dynamic and actually read like teenagers. It isn't all sunshine and roses, either. In getting to know each other, they argue and get on each others nerves. It feels very truthful and realistic.

The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I wanted more space for Kamron's alcoholism and Henry's family issues. I wanted more depth. I know this is a YA novel and I wasn't expecting too much detail but it felt too neat. I wanted more space for those topics to breathe.

Still, I'll be recommending this to all my friends!
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3.5 stars. Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book to read early! This is about 2 teenagers who do not know their dad. Samira is a young girl who has been forced to grow up way too soon. She is primarily raised by her grandma and grandpa as her mom works far away and has not been the primary care giver. She has an older brother named Kameron who struggles with alcoholism and after her grandpa dies, she is solely responsible for a lot of Kameron's care. She doesn't know her dad and definitely has a little resentment (as you would). Henry was raised by his aunt and uncle who adopted him to be their own when his mom knew she couldn't do it. She's still in the picture so he has Mom, Dad, and Mama. He also has very few if any memories of his dad, but he has a desire to know him that Samira kind of struggles with because of the resentment and the heaviness of her life. The 2 kids find out that they're half siblings through 23 and me and so they go on a journey together to find their dad. They find out things about him that change their perspective and then once they get to meet him it changes again. I like that this book had a little bit of depth in it. It had a lot of conversation around mental health, racial issues, substance abuse and more that kids may or may not be dealing with in their late teens. The father (and therefore the kids) are of middle eastern descent and in present day that can be a really hard title to carry. Henry struggles with his mental health and we see the impact of that a few times. Overall, this is definitely YA and feels relatable for kids of that age, but it goes very wide without going super deep on any one thing. I don't think I'll remember it forever but it was good while I read it. 

Their dad is in jail because of a DUI where he badly hurt someone. He has a little history because he's had to face a lot of discrimination for being of middle eastern descent while in the army, but he's actually a really good guy. He has a lot of PTSD, substance abuse issues, and racial tensions to deal with and he's doing the best he can.
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Samira and Henry, both of Iranian-American heritage, discovered that they were half-siblings after using DNA testing to find their father.
I absolutely loved the relationship between Henry and Samira! It was so interesting to see how they were alike and different simultaneously, and how their dad leaving had such a different impact on each of them. It really made me feel for both of them and root for their happiness!
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The Search for Us i an intriguing and refreshingly unique YA novels, that ditches the same old tropes. Susan Azim Boyer's sophomore novel is definitely one to pay attention to. Following the journey of two Iranian-American half-siblings in search of their estranged father, and the growth they experience along the way. A non-sapphic YA romance novel is definitely a treat!
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The Search for Us was a beautifully written and emotional YA read! Samira and Henry's awkwardness in the beginning was sweet and felt so genuine, and I loved the way their sibling relationship grew. The characters were all well-rounded, flawed but relatable. I would have loved to see more of the struggle of growing up as Iranian Americans who were disconnected from their Iranian family and culture. However, I still highly recommend this one!
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Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this ARC publication for an honest review.

I enjoyed reading the author's last book and this one was also a hit for me (after I got over the assumption that it was a romance!)

This is a story of finding family and the history and heartbreak between newly discovered siblings through a DNA test. Samira and Henry...their story was heartbreaking and just lovely at the same time. I loved how the two fell into a healthy brother/sister relationship despite all the poison that surrounded them.

4 stars
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In a Nutshell: I am pleasantly surprised! Enjoyed this YA novel to a great extent. (Just for context, I don’t enjoy YA to any extent, most of the times.) Interesting themes, some good characters, atypical plot. PSA: This is NOT a romance but a sibling story.

Story Synopsis:
Samira Murphy knows that she is an overfunctioner. She takes care of her widowed grandma and also ensures that her alcoholic elder brother stays put in recovery. However, when certain incidents threaten to topple their already precarious financial situation, she takes a DNA test in a bid to locate her father, whom she hasn’t seen or heard from since she was a baby.
Henry Owen has been reared by his aunt and uncle, though his biological mom (his aunt’s sister) is also a vital part of his life. He feels torn between his overly strict adoptive parents and his unreliable birth mom. In a bid to know more about his heritage, he takes a DNA test to search  for the biological father he has never known.
Imagine their surprise when, instead of finding their father, Samira and Henry find each other – as matched siblings on the DNA results. Thus begins a new journey of discovery, focussed of learning more about the past as well as the present in a bid to ensure stronger future connections.
The story comes to us in the alternate third-person perspectives of Samira and Henry. 

Bookish Yays:
💐 It was refreshing to see a YA novel focus on sibling relationships. Moreover, there is no forced romantic content in the story. Henry is already in a relationship and Samira isn’t provided any love interest. Loved this choice!
💐 The dual perspectives of Samira and Henry are well written. I like how there is no repetition between their points of view. The transition between their perspectives is in sync with the plot progression.
💐 I loved Henry’s character. While he is torn across his three parents, he does his best to keep them all happy. At the same time, he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind. Even when his newly discovered sibling Samira gets overbearing, he doesn’t hesitate to put her in her place. 
💐 Tara (Samira’s best friend) and Linh (Henry’s girlfriend) add the right level of support and fun to the story. 
💐 Through the characters, we get multiple kinds of representations. Samira and Henry both are biracial. The key characters are from American, Iranian/Persian, Vietnamese, Irish and Black ethnicities. One character is bisexual, one is a trans-racial adoptee. There is also a Muslim character.
💐 I enjoyed the detailing in the story when it came to real-world matters. Everything seems realistic, whether it is the process of getting DNA results or of looking up someone online. 
💐 Don’t miss out on the author’s note! I loved what she revealed about her inspiration for this story. 

Bookish Mixed Bags:
🌹 I found it tough to connect with Samira. She is a great character, no doubt. Resourceful, concerned about her family, and hyper-attentive to detail. However, she has the typical YA habit of assuming that she knows more than everyone else, which gets annoying after a while. 
🌹 Samira has a tendency to classify everyone as either an overfunctioner or an underfunctioner. This habit of hers is overused in the plot as she slots everyone into these two categories without even realising it. Sometimes, she even goes wrong while doing so. So while I liked the concept at first, I think it was stretched too far. 
🌹 There are many discussion-worthy topics in the book: biracial kids, depression, autoimmune disorder, alcoholism, uninterested parents, parental pressure, Islamophobia, parental abuse, parental abandonment, infidelity,  racism, drugs usage, DNA testing, found family,… As you can see, it went a little overboard on the social issues. Many of the themes could have safely been eliminated without affecting the core plot. The overuse of relevant themes nullifies their impact as the discussion stays mostly surface-level.
🌹 I love the cover. The double helix between the two characters hopefully indicates that it’s a sibling story. (Then again, The Soulmate Equation also featured a double helix, and it was a romance! 👀) I love the title as well; it suits the story perfectly. The problem is that when you put that title and that cover together, it makes the book look like a YA Romance, which is most certainly isn’t. Readers who pick the book up just by the cover might end up disappointed. And other readers might dismiss the book assuming it is a YA Romance. (I almost did!)
🌹 The ending is too neat and too perfect. I understand that his a YA work, so a happy ending is almost mandatory. But given the topics, I think the book would have done better with a hopeful ending than a perfectly resolved one.

Bookish Nays: (This is where I forget that it was a YA novel and review it with my adult goggles on. 😎)
🌵 As always, almost every adult in the book is an idiot. The sole exception is Mr. Hartford from the alcoholic rehabilitation centre, but his role is too small. I don’t understand why YA novels have to portray adults as selfish persons with no common sense and no heart and no awareness of what it means to be young. I am not saying all adults are prefect; I am saying that a balanced representation would be more realistic. Any YA book that shows only YAs handling things well while the adults are jerks is doing a disservice to both YAs and adults. 
🌵 Samira is supposed to have an autoimmune disorder. But the name of this is never mentioned. All we hear instead is the effects of the same, and how she uses Benadryl to counter its effects and to sleep well. I cannot appreciate a YA books that gives its young readers a new idea of misusing a medicine. The Benadryl references (15 prominent mentions) should have been culled.
🌵 There are multiple cuss words (including the F word) and references to drug (weed) usage. YAs might do this in reality, but that doesn’t mean I have to like seeing it in fiction meant for them. Of course, there’s plenty of alcohol mentioned as well, but as the two characters are highlighted as alcohol addicts, this reference can’t be helped. 

All in all, I did enjoy this book much more than I had expected. I loved the focus on family, even if the family was so dysfunctional. Though it does have problems (most of which are because I am an adult reading YA), the core storyline is wonderful.

Recommended to older YAs (16+) who are interested in strong sibling connection stories.

3.75 stars.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Search for Us”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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Samira and Henry both have complicated family situations.  Samira lives with her grandmother, after her mother left to pursue a job out of state, and spends much of her time worrying about her brother, who struggles with addiction, and how she'll afford to attend her dream college.  Henry lives with his aunt and uncle, who have raised him most of his life.  His aunt and her sister, Henry's biological mom, don't get along and often fight over their respective roles in Henry's life.  Neither Samira nor Henry have seen their father since they were small children.  

At around the same time, Samira and Henry both take a DNA test, hoping to find their respective fathers for different reasons.  They are surprised when the DNA test results reveal they are half-siblings, sharing the father they both have not seen for years.  The two connect and, slowly, build a bond as they search for their father.  Through their growing relationship, they begin to confront parts of their lives that had long felt out of reach.

This was a moving and well-written story about family and the search for connection.  Through Samira and Henry's respective family situations and their developing relationship to each other, the author effectively explores interesting issues around identity, addiction, loss, and mental health.  

Highly recommended!
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Thank you to #NetGalley, Susan Boyer and the publisher of the book for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Samira has a lot on her plate. She is taking care of her grandmother who is recently widowed and trying to help her alcoholic brother get the help he needs. Samira is desperate to go to college and decides to take a DNA test to see if she can find her long lost father and get some help.

Henry is being raised by his strict uncle and aunt because his mom is not reliable. Henry just wants someone to love him for who he is, so he takes a DNA test to try and find someone who loves him.

Henry and Samira are looking for their father but end up matching with each other. The hurt teens begin the long search for the father they have both wanted.

A read of family, love and friendship. The premise definitely pulled me in and I will be recommending it to others!
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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.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.
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I really liked the themes addressed in this novel. Family relationships, toxic people in the same family. The distress of being in unhealthy family circles. Samira and Henry try to find happiness, to understand that their past doesn't define their future.  
It's an easy read that I recommend!
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“Thank you.” (…)
“What did I do?” (…)
“You’re the one who jumped in my truck and said, ‘Drive.’” (…)
“You’re the one who drove.” (…)
“We make a great team.”

Genre: Young Adult, General Fiction
Actual Rating: 4 stars
Spicy Meter: 1 fire emoji
Content Warnings: Touches on subjects like parental abandonment and alcoholism leading to DUIs and casualties.

This is a story of what means to be a family—is it blood or is it something more abstract? “The Search for Us” follows Samira Murphy and Henry Owen, two half siblings that knew nothing about each other’s existence. They both, separately, take DNA tests in an attempt to find their father, but end up finding each other instead.

Told through two points of view, this book was both sweet and infuriating. I even thought about DNFing at one point because I was so mad at Samira. So so mad. She is the picture perfect representation of codependence—she is willing to put her future in jeopardy in order to save others. That’s how moving Susan Azim Boyer’s writing was, really. I wanted to drop everything because I was so infuriated.

If you’re looking for a general fiction YA novel that touches deeply on heavy subjects like adoption, parental abandonment, and alcoholism, written by someone who not only did their research but actually know people in similar situations (and consulted them), then “The Search for Us” is exactly what you need.

If you click here, you’ll be redirected to Goodreads, so you can add the book to your TBR list.

Or you could click here, and be redirected to Amazon, so you can order the book.

ARC provided by NetGalley and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: October 24, 2023
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Just… wow. 

This book was heavy for me at times and my heart was with these characters from the beginning. The writing is honest and raw and I am in awe of how the author was able to convey so much within this story.

Truly will have this story and these characters on my mind and in my heart for a long time.
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Posted to Amazon and Goodreads:

While searching for their place in the world, this is a modern-day story of two siblings discovering a DNA match. Never have met, they are led to each other. Told in the third person, Samira, and Henry are half-siblings with Iranian-American heritage. Now they need to find their father.

The first half of the book delves into their separate lives. The buildup to their meeting didn’t happen until about halfway into the book and honestly, I could hardly wait for it to happen. At the core of the story, you will find family, hope, and struggles. I always appreciate a story with closure and am grateful when it’s plausible. This is a good book that I would recommend.
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Thank you to netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for my honest review!

Rating: 4.45 stars

I think this may be one of my favorite reads of the year and it literally just came out. I haven't read anything else by Susan, but now I know it is much needed because this book was so emotional and so fulfilling for me. Trying to find a father, the entire journey was just pulling at my heartstrings and was so beautifully written, which I don't say too often in the YA genre. It's really tricky to hit the mark, but to keep it from being New Adult and Susan did that so wonderfully.
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A moving blend of found family and blood connections in this latest from YA author, Jasmine Zumideh. Two half-siblings looking for greater biological connections with their birth father end up finding each other on a DNA site leading to a journey neither expected. Heartfelt and perfect for fans of authors like Emma Lord. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review!
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Suzanne Azim Boyer’s second novel, The Search for Us, focuses on two Iranian half-siblings who connect after completing a DNA ancestry test and bond together in search of their missing father. This coming-of-age YA novel is heartfelt and explores a wide range of heavy topics, including alcohol addiction and PTSD. 

I loved the dynamic between Samira and Henry as both of their lives converge and they pursue a common purpose: to learn more about themselves by finding the father they never really knew. This book focuses on finding oneself and forging a path after high school, while also handling the complexities of family dynamics. There is a large emphasis on mental health, with discussions regarding anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In addition, the discussion of alcohol addiction is prevalent throughout the narrative, including its effect on family members. 

I also loved learning more about Iranian culture, Persian food, and family traditions. The book concludes with a sense of healing and hope, as Samira and Henry both learn about their pasts, have deep and difficult conversations with their family members, and embrace a new future with each other in it.

Overall, this is a solid YA book that I recommend! 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Wednesday Books for this advance copy, in exchange for my honest review.
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3.7 Stars 
One Liner: Heartwarming with a few issues (suitable for the target age group) 

Samira Murphy is stretching herself thin to keep her family together. At seventeen, she has an autoimmune disorder, low attendance, a Gran in mourning, an alcoholic brother, a mother working the job of her dreams in another state, and a low bank balance. When Samira’s college and future become uncertain, she decides to hunt down her estranged father through a DNA search. Imagine her surprise when it matches with a sibling she didn’t even know about!
Henry Owen has two moms – a bio-mom who loves him (and may not always be reliable) and a not-adopted-but-adopted mom and dad/ uncle who want him to achieve the sky and more. Henry longs for a connection to call his own. His DNA search leads him to Samira, a half-sibling. 
Can two people struggling with personal demons find comfort in this new bond? What is it to have a brother or sister you didn’t know about? 
The story comes in the third-person POV of Samira and Henry in alternative chapters. 

My Thoughts: 
My only reason to grab this book was the premise. A YA read that centers on half-siblings finding each other is not common (at least as far as I know). It’s refreshing to read how two people get to know each other’s existence when they are in a most vulnerable age group. 
Samira and Henry are well-etched. They are your average teens but also different. Samira is half-adult, no thanks to the responsibilities dumped on her head. Henry has anger management issues (which somehow get resolved off-page) but is a sweet guy. 
Tara and Linh ensure there are enough lighthearted and sweet moments in the book. People do need friends like them (even if Tara can be overwhelming at times). 
The dual POV (both in the third-person) works well. We see their current situation and get the necessary backstories. Once they start interacting, the dual POV helps maintain the balance between the happenings and the characters’ perceived ideas about the events. 
The interactions between Samira and Henry feel organic. They go through a range of emotions, learn to bond, fight like all siblings do, and support each other. 
Since this is a YA novel, it doesn’t deal with the triggers in depth. Much of it is surface level but that’s expected. Still, I wish Kamron’s alcoholism got a bit more space. While we see how it affects Samira’s life, the resolution feels a little too neatly tied up. 
The same goes for Henry’s personal issues with his uncle and aunt, who are also his dad and mom. The change seems to come out of nowhere. While this can be due to the POV restrictions, it also makes everything seem too easy. 
However, I do like that Gran’s arc is consistent. It makes more sense since people are indeed like that in real life. Change doesn’t happen so easily, and people who make selfish decisions are more likely to continue making them. I don’t mind the happy ending, though I do wish it wasn’t made easy for certain characters. 
I also wouldn’t mind if Samira and Henry spent more time together. The siblings sure have a lot to talk about! 
Family is another theme of the book. Some of it is handled well and provides a hopeful outlook. The other part may be too optimistic even for YA readers. 
There are a few cuss words commonly used by teens (even if we want to pretend otherwise). There’s a bit of adult-ish content, too. 

To summarize, The Search for Us deals with quite a few complex issues at the surface level. It is a steady-paced read with a different premise and delivers a neatly wrapped-up ending. 
Oh, don’t miss the author’s note at the end. 
Thank you, NetGalley and St.Martin’s Press (Wednesday Books), for the eARC. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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This incredible novel follows Samira and her newly discovered half brother​ Henry as they attempt to track down their father using a DNA test. Samira lives with her grandmother and older brother, who is struggling with an alcohol addiction, and since her grandfather’s death Samira feels she has to take care of everybody over herself and her dreams. Henry is struggling to take charge in his own life and dreams over pleasing his parents, who are actually his Aunt and Uncle. A hard feat when his bio mom and mom can’t spend five minutes in the same space without fighting with one another. But when you’re seeking answers about your past, you don’t always get what you’re hoping for. 

I absolutely devoured this book. I started it before finishing another because the other got misplaced and did not expect to finish it first. Samira was such a relatable character for me and helped me a little better understand my oldest daughter who doesn’t have an autoimmune disorder that we are aware of, but does seem to itch whenever she’s anxious. ​i enjoyed reading a YA that wasn’t about romance and I thought the storyline of finding your family and your place in a family was absolutely beautiful. I know next to nothing about Iranian culture and really enjoyed learning a bit about it. The food sounds very unique and interesting. I can’t wait to read more from Boyer.
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