by Harivallabhi Ganapathy ('24)
Most 16-year-olds have already accomplished a lot by the time they reach their senior year including getting a driver's license, a job, and starting to apply for colleges. These are some critical goals for the year, but publishing a book is not usually on most people’s lists. However, for Areeb Mahamood, it is.
Even when he was a kid, Areeb loved to read and write. His love for reading grew when his middle school librarian, Ms. Kim Zito, fueled his passion for reading by giving many book recommendations and inspiring him to start writing seriously.
“It's not surprising to me that Areeb has written a book. He spent a fair amount of time in the library. I recommended Nyxia, by Scott Reintgen, to him--and it's a fantastic book, so that's undoubtedly true--and that was one of the many books that he's used as inspiration to writing his own book. It's great that he persisted in writing his own work, and at Crossroads we wish him a great future career, “ said Ms. Zito.
The writing process for A Sky of Flowers began back in 2017. After a brief hiatus, Areeb began to finalize his project during quarantine and finished writing his book in January of 2023. During the aforementioned hiatus, Areeb felt like his writing was not where he wanted it to be, explaining his writing process as wanting “something [that] people would probably not expect”. Throughout this, Areeb’s mother was one of his biggest supporters - the book is dedicated to her as a ‘thank you’ for all of her support.
“She’s been my number one supporter, encouraging me to keep experimenting with new ideas when I couldn’t find the one that felt true to me,” said Mahamood.
His inspiration for A Sky of Flowers came from the Marvel Universe as well as other action movies. Mahamood tends to incorporate stronger emotions as well as more complex ones. Mahamood added that he used “the fantastical elements of the dystopian and superhero stories to better convey my themes.”
Mahamood said the publishing process was a “breeze.” He reached out to Amazon to publish his book. Amazon required that the book be reformatted, which took dozens of hours of nonstop work. Once that was finished, the book was uploaded to Amazon along with the cover art.
The book follows the main protagonists' Carmen Miller and Alissa Morgan. Upon falling into a sinkhole that develops in the United Kingdom, Carmen Miller awakens in a different dimension filled with flowers. The magical flowers have the ability to bring people back from the dead but the government requires those who want access to the flowers to be interviewed in order to determine who can use them. Somehow, interviewees have recently been disappearing and have been found murdered. On the other side, Alissa Morgan has lived her entire life in this second dimension. Recently, her brother died, and Alissa tries to convince her newfound ‘friend’, Carmen, to interview for the usage of the flowers, without risking herself. Through all the ups and downs of the story, Alissa and Carmen become close and eventually, Alissa is dealt with the life-or-death decision to save herself or her newfound friend.
Mahamood thinks this book will have a significant impact on teenagers' lives all around the world.
He said, “The book has a lot to do with mental health issues in teenagers, especially self-blame and depression. I didn’t want to depict these emotions as easily-conquerable, though, as some stories do. I also didn’t want to cover anything up—I wanted to show these issues in their raw state,” he also added, “The book doesn’t seek to show a resolution for any of the emotions I depict. Rather, it’s meant to show readers the true nature and severity of these feelings. Additionally, for those currently struggling with issues like these, it’s meant to serve as a way for them to understand that they’re perfectly normal for feeling the way they do and that they aren’t alone.”
Mahamood’s goal is to show teenagers that they are not alone and that there is always someone out there who can relate to them. When asked what word would best describe the book, Areeb said the word “understanding” as it goes with the book’s themes as well as its morals.
A quote that Mahamood thinks summarizes the book well but also didn’t give too much away was the opening line of the book.
"A girl awakened in a bed of flowers, in a body unbeknownst to her. Her body was spread flat on the grass, facing up, as if someone had carefully laid her down.”
A Sky of Flowers is now available on Amazon and other booksellers all around the world!