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Saira Zariwala is Afraid by Shabnam Minwalla – an unputdownable teen mystery

One of the milestones that indicate one is of age, is getting your own cellphone. Not surprisingly, Saira, a grade 9 student of a Mumbai school was thrilled when she got her very own cellphone. However, little did she know that it would propel her into a dark and sinister mystery. Saira Zariwala is Afraid by Shabnam Minwalla (HarperCollins Children’s Books) pulls the reader into a thriller teen mystery that all begins with messages to an unknown person, Aakash on Saira’s phone. 

What starts off as something innocuous, soon spirals into a full-fledged whodunnit. A teen mystery thriller with a hint of the supernatural….a book that give make you smile, give you the creeps and hook you till the very end. The setting of the story is in Mumbai, the city of dreams which hides ugly truths in her belly! Saira is compelled to be a part of Aakash’s life, as sinister events and ugly happenings unravel one by one. Strange messages. A painful truth hidden in a fancy high-rise. Murder. Aakash’s disappearance. Parties with a touch of glamour…sinister glamour. The book is a heady mix of exciting elements that just don’t let you put it down till you have reached the resolution. 

While the teen mystery has a fantastic plot and pace, what is also very endearing is how the characters and the setting are so realistic and rooted in contemporary times. Saira’s life as a school going girl in a metro city seems so familiar. Her family, the society she lives in, her friends and the entire setting gives a family-next-door vibe. The life of contemporary teeagers, replete with WhatsApp conversations and Instagram seems so rooted the times. The touch of humour in the book will also have smile all the way to the end. 

Shabnam Minwalla once again excels in the teen mystery genre, with a dash of the supernatural. Her earlier book, What Maya Saw, also involved a Bombay-teenager who resolves a surreal mystery. 

Saira Zariwala is Afraid by Shabnam Minwalla gives you an unputdownable fix of the teen mystery genre. While tweens and young adults will love the book, I vouch that adults will as well!

Books by Shabnam Minwalla


Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.