Marina Budhos

Young Adult Novelist
Fullbright Scholar
Travels from: Newark, NJ

“Thank you so much for working with our seventh graders yesterday. Your passion for writing and enthusiasm for their ideas really engaged the students and inspired them to write.” — Jillian Wasick, Program Manager

Marina Budhos is an author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction. Her newest young adult novel, We Are All We Have (October 2022),  is a vivid exploration of what happens when the country you have put your hopes into is fast shutting down, award-winning author Marina Budhos shows us how one girl bursting with dreams navigates secrets, love, and the lure of the open road. Prior to that she published The Long Ride, about three mixed race girls during a 1970s integration struggle. (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House). Watched is a follow-up to Ask Me No Questions, and takes on surveillance in a post 9/11 era. Set in Queens, NYC, Watched tells the story of Naeem—a teenage boy who thinks he can charm his way through life. One day his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer him a dark deal. Watched received an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature YA Honor (APALA) and is an Honor Book for The Walter Award (We Need Diverse Books).

Marina also published her second co-authored book with husband Marc Aronson, Eyes of the World: Robert Capa & Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism (Henry Holt & Co.) Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa and Taro took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the devastation to news magazines. In so doing, they helped give birth to the idea of bearing witness with technology, bringing home tragedies from across the world. Eyes of the World is a 2017 YALSA Finalist in Nonfiction. Their previous book, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science, was a 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist and also a YALSA Finalist in Nonfiction.

Marina is the author of the young adult novels Tell Us We’re Home, which was a 2017 Essex County YA Pick and Ask Me No Questions, recipient of the first James Cook Teen Book Award, an ALA Best Book and Chicago Library’s Best of the Best, among other awards. She has published the adult novels The Professor of Light and House of Waiting, and a nonfiction book, Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. Her books have been published in several countries and her short stories, articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The Daily Beast, The Awl, The Huffington Post, LitHub, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Nation, Dissent, Marie Claire, Redbook, Travel & Leisure, the Los Angeles Times, and in anthologies.

Marina Budhos has been a Fulbright Scholar to India, received an NEA Literature Fellowship, an EMMA (Exceptional Merit Media Award), a Rona Jaffe Award for Women Writers, the 2018 Maplewood Literary Award, and three Fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. A graduate of Cornell and Brown universities, she is a professor of English at William Paterson University, and frequently gives talks throughout the country and abroad. She is married to the author Marc Aronson and lives in New Jersey with their two sons, Sasha and Rafi.

For Youth Audiences, check out Marina’s profile at Authors Out Loud!

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The Long Ride

Wendy Lamb Books |
Young Adult Fiction

In the tumult of 1970s New York City, seventh graders are bussed from their neighborhood in Queens to integrate a new school in South Jamaica.

Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.

Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.

While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy–but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school.


Ember |
Young Adult Fiction

An extraordinary and timely novel, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor Book, examines what it’s like to grow up under surveillance in America. 

Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.

Naeem is a Bangledeshi teenager living in Queens who thinks he can charm his way through anything. But then mistakes catch up with him. So do the cops, who offer him an impossible choice: spy on his Muslim neighbors and report back to them on shady goings-on, or face a police record. Naeem wants to be a hero—a protector. He wants his parents to be proud of him. But as time goes on, the line between informing and entrapping blurs. Is he saving or betraying his community?

Inspired by actual surveillance practices in New York City and elsewhere, Marina Budhos’s extraordinary and timely novel examines what it’s like to grow up with Big Brother always watching. Naeem’s riveting story is as vivid and involving as today’s headlines.

Walter Dean Myers Award Honor Book, We Need Diverse Books
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book
YALSA Best YA Fiction for Young Adults

Sugar Changed the World

Clarion Books |
Research Based Nonfiction

When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways. Time line, source notes, bibliography, index.

Ask Me No Questions

Antheneum Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult Fiction

A Muslim immigrant teen struggles to hold her family together in the wake of 9/11 in this poignant novel from acclaimed author Marina Budhos.

You forget. You forget you don’t really exist here, that this isn’t your home.

Since emigrating from Bangladesh, fourteen-year-old Nadira and her family have been living in New York City on expired visas, hoping to realize their dream of becoming legal US citizens. But after 9/11, everything changes. Suddenly being Muslim means you are dangerous, a suspected terrorist.

When Nadira’s father is arrested and detained at the US-Canada border, Nadira and her older sister, Aisha, are told to carry on as if everything is the same. The teachers at Flushing High don’t ask any questions, but Aisha falls apart. Nothing matters to her anymore—not even college.

It’s up to Nadira to be the strong one and bring her family back together again.

AAPI Heritage

  • Learning about AAPI History Through Poetry & Song (4th grade-12th)
  • Forever Foreigners: Asian Americans in the U.S. (high school)
  • Post 9/11 & Its Impact On Asian Americans (middle school-high school)

Black History Month/Civil Rights

  • School Integration Then & Now (middle grade)
  • History of Slavery/World History: How Sugar Changed the World (middle grade-high school/AP World History)

European/World History/Media Studies

  • Robert Capa, Gerda Taro & The Spanish Civil War (high school)

Professional Development

  • What Is vs. What If: Connecting Social Studies & Literature
  • Radical Empathy: The Power of Diverse Literature in the Classroom

Author Book Talks

  • Coming of Age in a Post 9/11 World: Ask Me No Questions, Watched, We Are All We Have  (YA)
  • Mixed Race in a Time of Change: The Long Ride (middle grade)
  • Belonging,  Friendship, & Class: Tell Us We’re Home (middle grade-YA)
  • The Refugee Eye: Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism (YA)
  • 5,000 Years of History Through One Substance: Sugar Changed the World:  A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science (YA)

Writing Workshops

  • Breaking out of Boxes: Writing About Multiracial Characters
  • Research and Story-Making in Fiction & Nonfiction
  • Speak up, Speak Out: Writing from a Place of Passion
  • I’m Not So Young So How Do I Write Young?

Speak Up, Speak Out: Writing from a Place of Passion

  • Healing the Rift: Books & Empathy in a Divided Nation
  • Bridging the Gap: Writing Books for Young Adult & Adult Audiences
  • Undocumented, Surveillance, Integration, Class: Taking on Big Issues for Young Reader

Exploring Race, Class and School Integration with The Long Ride, SLJ Classroom Bookshelf, by Mary Ann Cappiello

Teacher’s Guide for Sugar Changed the World

Tell Us We’re Home: Mother-Daughter Book Club Discussion Guide

Teacher’s Guide for Eyes of the World aligned to Common Core standards

Teacher’s Guide for Tell Us We’re Home – Questions, Activities, Text Connections & Paired Readings

Free lesson plan using Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers on Second Generation Stories

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Asian-Pacific American Award for Literature
Walter Dean Myers Award Winner
Fulbright Scholar
James Cook Teen Book Award
ALA Best Book
Chicago Library’s Best of the Best

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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