What do the social worlds of teenage Muslim American boys look like? What issues do they grapple with and how do they think about issues that arise in their everyday lives? In his new book Keeping it Halal: The Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys
(Princeton University Press, 2017), John O’Brien
answers these questions and more. An overarching theme of the book is just how ordinary and common, in a teenage sense of things, these boys' lives are. O’Brien uses three years of ethnographic data and interviews to provide context and analysis of the lived experiences of Muslim American teenage boys. Emphasizing the culturally contested lives of these boys, O’Brien explores topics like music, dating, and balancing their religious experiences with their teenage experiences. In addition to learning about the boys’ lives, O’Brien encourages us to experience some of the broader issues that the Muslim American community deals with in everyday life.
Overall, through the stories provided and accessible language and explanations, this book would be of interest to a wide audience. For Sociology specifically, this book would be a good addition to a course on religion or youth, and would be easily digested by undergraduate and a perfect addition to a graduate level course.
Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.