Set in Pakistan, this is the story of a teen girl living with her mother and siblings in a diplomatic compound. As if getting used to another new country and set of customs and friends isn't enough, she must cope with an increasingly tense political situation that becomes dangerous with alarming speed. Her life and those of her sister and brother depend on her resourcefulness and the unexpected help of an enigmatic Muslim classmate.
“Laidlaw, a globetrotting social worker, puts her firsthand knowledge of faraway lands and cultures to good use in this exciting tale of a Canadian teen’s encounters with some of the best and worst features of a radically different society. Emma’s first-person, present-tense narration is realistic and compelling”
“This is an honest and realistic story about being an outsider in another country (much of it is based on the author's own experiences)…. Laidlaw does not hold back from depicting some of the less-attractive aspects of Pakistani life, but she also conveys a sense of the beauty and wonder of this culture.”
—School Library Journal
“An Infidel in Paradise is a very well-written evocation of both a tormented teen and the exotic setting she finds herself in … teen readers will relate to Emma’s struggles and learn much from this excellent portrayal of culture clash.”
—Quill and Quire
“Laidlaw has created a rich and layered text. Readers see Emma and her world through multiple lenses: teenager, diplomat, Canadian. Her descriptions of both the very rich and the very poor communities of Islamabad are carefully and respectfully drawn. Seeing this world through the eyes of a teenager gives the reader the opportunity to explore the differences in a very engaging way…. Highly recommended”
“S.J. Laidlaw could have imbued An Infidel in Paradise with the same resentment that is implied in the scathing indictment of ‘Infidel!’ leveled against Emma but she does not. Instead, she plays with the idea that the safety of ‘inside,’ whether it be the compound, one's comfort zone or culture, and the danger of ‘outside’ is not always the case. It has more to do with perception and broaching that transition with caution in an effort to make both territories manageable. Even Emma is able to find herself accepting her new life as An Infidel in Paradise.
—CanLit for Little Canadians
". . . I hope every teen reads this book, and that everyone who knows a teen reads it. An Infidel in Paradise was a pleasure to read (even if it did make me cry more than once), and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more work by S.J. Laidlaw."
“…Laidlaw, a globetrotting social worker, puts her firsthand knowledge of faraway lands and cultures to good use in this exciting tale of a Canadian teen’s encounters with some of the best and worst features of a radically different society. Emma’s first-person, present-tense narration is realistic and compelling, providing entertaining contrasts between her thoughts and her actions.”