“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 several award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction. Her newest young adult novel, We Are All We Have, follows Rania, a teenage asylum seeker whose dreams are shattered, and she takes to the open road, seeking sanctuary, love, and the truth behind family secrets.

Prior to that she published The Long Ride, about three mixed race girls during a 1970s integration struggle; Watched, which takes on surveillance in a post 9/11 era, and received an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature YA Honor (APALA) and an Honor for The Walter Award (We Need Diverse Books); Tell Us We’re HomeAsk Me No Questions, recipient of the first James Cook Teen Book Award, an ALA Best Book and Chicago Library’s Best of the Best, The Professor of Light and House of Waiting,

Marina also published nonfiction, including Eyes of the World: Robert Capa & Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism co-authored with husband Marc Aronson, about a photography couple that took powerful images of the Spanish Civil War and helped give birth to bearing witness through photography. Eyes of the World was 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 a YALSA Finalist in Nonfiction, and Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers.

Marina Budhos has been a Fulbright Scholar to India, received an NEA Literature Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award for Women Writers, and three Fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. She frequently gives talks throughout the country and abroad.

Marina's Featured Titles

We Are All We Have

Wendy Lamb Books |
Young Adult Fiction

When a teenage girl’s single mom is taken by ICE, everything changes—all of her hopes and dreams for the future have turned into survival.

Seventeen-year-old Rania is shaken awake in her family’s apartment in Brooklyn. ICE is at the door, taking her mother away. But Ammi has done everything right, hasn’t she? Their asylum case is fine.
This was supposed to be Rania’s greatest summer: hanging out with her best friend, Fatima, and getting ready for college in the fall.
But it’s 2019, and nothing is certain.
Now, along with her younger brother, Kamal, and a new friend, Carlos, Rania must figure out how to survive. A road trip leads to searching for answers to questions she didn’t even think to ask.
In this 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.

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.


General Author Talks

To See (K-adult): My journey as an author, growing up mixed race in an international community, writing fiction and nonfiction for middle grade and upward to adult to reflect the world that once was—and the world we live in now.

What Is/What If: The inspiration behind my novels and nonfiction books.  Where did the ideas come from? How do you decide what is fiction and what is nonfiction?  What’s the difference in writing these two genres? How much do they share?


Teaching 9/11

Beyond One Day (middle grade & high school):An exploration of the post 9/11 landscape, as told through three novels that focus on teenage protagonists– Ask Me No Questions, Watched, & We Are All We Have. Perfect for commemorations and school activities to deepen and extend students’ understanding of the impact of 9/11.



Coming of Age/Coming into America (middle grade & high school): The immigrant experience through novels such as We Are All We Have, Ask Me No Questions, Watched and Tell Us We’re Home. Excellent for social studies/language arts units on immigration. Writing exercises and prompts to encourage reflection on students’ own experiences


Black History Month/Civil Rights

School Integration: Then & Now (middle grade): Using the middle grade novel The Long Ride, students learn about the evolving arc of integration in our communities, from 1954 through the 1970s to now, and learn about social change on TV, fashion, art.  Fun, interactive activities using pop quizzes, TV theme songs, & paintings.


Community & Identity

Let’s Talk Class & Belonging (middle grade): Drawing on the novel Tell Us We’re Home, a presentation about finding your sense of a belonging in your community.  Presentation & activities for students, good for large and small formats.


European/World History/Information Literacy

Young Like Us: How an Earlier Generation Fought Back with Cameras (high school): Drawing from Eyes of the Worldthis power point presentation offers a window into a generation of young people who used new technology to warn about fascism and impending war.  Discussion of information literacy, propaganda, the role of art in resistance movements, and the period leading up to World War II.  Suitable for large assemblies and social studies/history classes.

How Sugar Changed the World: Global History of Slavery (middle grade-high school/AP/IB World History): A presentation on how one ingredient shaped world history, led to the slave trade, and gave birth to ideas of emancipation.  For classroom use students can also trace out how sugar has impacted their family history. Suitable for assemblies and social studies/history.


AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Heritage

Learning about AAPI History Through Poetry & Song (4th grade-12th): A multi-arts presentation on the history of AAPI immigration, including Hawaii sugar workers, Angel Island, the transcontinental railroad, told through songs and poems.


Sample Writing Workshops: (Middle Grade/High School)

Write Back! Poetry & Prose Workshop: A hands-on workshop that guides students to be inspired by published literature to create their own fresh, contemporary versions.

Imagine Into History: In this workshop, students become history sleuths, piecing together vivid scenes and stories from the past and gaining a deeper understanding of social studies and history content.

Jump Right In: A brainstorming writing workshop to jump start your writing of stories and essays.

Act It Out: A fiction writing workshop that utilizes drama techniques to help students create dramatic scenes for their stories.

What Color is Your Bathroom Sink? It may seem trivial, but imagining small details for a character is a way to build them on the page and make them vivid and 3-dimensional. A fun workshop with activities, character surveys, and prompts.

Making It Personal: How to draw on sense memory to create a larger personal essay. Techniques for expanding on memory and drawing out larger themes.

The Nonfiction Treasure Box: Curiosity, Research, Imagination, and Structure. A presentation on how one pursues an idea and researches and writes nonfiction.  Exercises for students as they pursue their own research and writing projects.

Get Lit: From Literature to Policy to Activism: A presentation on how literature can lead to greater knowledge and social action. Get ready to reflect and get inspired! Readings, workshops with break-out groups.

And many more lively workshops!


Sample Writing Workshops (Adult)

Peril & Turning Points: How To Create Tension in Your Stories

Stay the Course: A Novel-Writing Workshop

Breaking out of Boxes: Writing Multicultural, 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?


Sample Professional Development & General Talks

What Is vs. What If: Connecting Social Studies & Literature

Radical Empathy: Utilizing Diverse Literature in the Classroom

Gateway to Literature: The Power of Readers Theater in the Classroom

Greenlight Bookstore | Marina Budhos & Tanuja Desai Hidier

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

We Are All We Have Abridged Curriculum Guide Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship
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 you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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