A student arrested on suspicions of terrorism. A high school torn apart by racism. Two boys from two different sets of circumstances forced to choose sides.These are the issues at the heart of Bifocal
Two bestselling authors join forces to write a powerful novel about racism.
A student arrested on suspicions of terrorism. A high school torn apart by racism. Two boys from two different sets of circumstances forced to choose sides.
These are the issues at the heart of Bifocal, a groundbreaking new novel for young-adults.
The story is told from two different points of view. Haroon is a serious student devoted to his family. His grandparents emigrated from Afghanistan. Jay is a football star devoted to his team. He is white.
One day their high school is put on lockdown, and the police arrest a Muslim student on suspicion of terrorist affiliations. He might be guilty. Or is he singled out because of his race?
The entire student body fragments along racial lines and both Haroon and Jay find that their differences initially put them at odds. The Muslim students become targets and a smoke-bomb is set off near their lockers while Jay and his teammates believe they've been set-up to look like racists.
Bifocal is, by no stretch, an easy book. Award-winning authors Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters deliver a serious, hard-hitting book about racism that does not talk down to young people.
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On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008
ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards Bronze Medal Winner (YA Fiction category), 2007
Snow Willow Award nominee, 2008
CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2008
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"This thought-provoking novel works extremely well as an examination of the dangers of racism and the redeeming value of tolerance."
— Quill & Quire
"This is a powerful and important book, one that will speak to modern teen readers in a way that they will undoubtedly hear and respond to. . . Without falling into didacticism, Ellis and Walters thoughtfully depict a full range of reactions and widely-held beliefs and offer readers the opportunity to see not only the vastly different experiences that shape Jay and Haroon's understanding of events, but also how so many others feel and respond to events like 9/11 and the mere threat of anything similar. . . Bifocal should, and will, enjoy a wide readership and would make an excellent choice for class, or group, discussion."
— CM Magazine
"This is a story that will leave readers looking at their schools and themselves with new eyes."
"Bifocal is perhaps the bravest, most important, engaging and enraging, most satisfying work of fiction for young Canadians in a long while. Also, the most timely. It will make you think, render you angry and saddened, and leave you hopeful and reflective."
— The Hamilton Spectator
"This novel is about our differences and how we treat one another. It deals with contemporary issues and could well become important reading in today’s high schools."
— Winnipeg Free Press
"(Bifocal) is a powerful look at a community divided along racial lines."
— The Canadian Press
"Together, Ellis and Walters created two vivid characters and put them in a fictional high school that bristles with racial tension."
— The Toronto Star
View Biographical note
was born in Northern Ontario but grew up farther south, in Paris, Ontario. Like many writers she was a creative loner as a child, at odds with formal education in her youth, and a voracious reader. As an adult, she has been occupied with many issues of interest to women, such as peace, education and equality in society at home and abroad. She works at a group home for women in Toronto reading and writing in her spare time. In 2006 Deborah was named to the Order of Ontario.
is one of Canada's most successful writers and prolific writers for teenagers. His novel Shattered won the 2007 National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Award and the 2007 White Pine Award. A former teacher, Eric visits classrooms across the country and he has already spoken to more than 750,000 students.