Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Just a Hat ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Book Blitz Review & Giveaway!



Young Adult / Coming of Age / Jewish Fiction / Small-Town Texas / 1970s
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Page Count: 254
Publication Date: July 18, 2023

Scroll down for giveaway!

Action-packed, humorous, and bittersweet, this 1970s-era coming-of-age novel is more relevant than ever--exploring how a second-generation immigrant kid in a new hometown must navigate bullying, unexpected friendships, and the struggle of keeping both feet firmly planted in two very different cultures.

It's 1979, and thirteen-year-old Joseph Nissan can't help but notice that small-town Texas has something in common with Revolution-era Iran: an absence of fellow Jews. And in such a small town it seems obvious that a brown kid like him was bound to make friends with Latinos--which is a plus, since his new buds, the Ybarra twins, have his back. But when the Iran hostage crisis, two neighborhood bullies, and the local reverend's beautiful daughter put him in all sorts of danger, Joseph must find new ways to cope at home and at school.
As he struggles to trust others and stay true to himself, a fiercely guarded family secret keeps his father at a distance, and even his piano teacher, Miss Eleanor--who is like a grandmother to him--can't always protect him. But Joseph is not alone, and with a little help from his friends, he finds the courage to confront his fears and discovers he can inspire others to find their courage, too.

Just a Hat is an authentically one-of-a-kind YA debut that fuses the humor of Firoozeh Dumas's Funny in Farsi with the poignancy of Daniel Nayeri's Everything Sad Is Untrue.


Audiobook Narrated by Ramiz Monsef
Length: 6 hours, 33 minutes 

HALL WAYS BLOG'S AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: This book. I don’t know where to begin my gushing about Just a Hat, which is quite possibly my favorite book of the year so far. Maybe I start with 1978, Hazel, Texas.

Small-town Texas. 1978 and every other year of our Lord. Sigh.

I enjoyed returning to the seventies and recalling things like biking to the 7-11 and friends who joined resources wondering, “what would they buy with their pooled seventy-eight cents?” I remember the expense of a long-distance phone call and not having a quick and easy way to communicate with my parents if my plans changed or I ran into trouble. But if not for these little reminders the author dropped along the way, the novel could very well be set in current times.  The narrow-mindedness of ill-informed folks and their prejudices, stereotyping, and anger and fear of anyone who is “other” sadly persists in small-town Texas and beyond.  

“Rage. Control. RAGE.”

Author Shanah Khubiar has written some magnificent characters who just pop from the page. The emotions of the main character, nearly-thirteen-year-old Joseph, are palpable. As he tries to take control and adhere to his father’s teachings, Joseph learns to channel his anger into throwing a football, and here again, Khubiar slides in a reality of pretty much any year in Texas: football is king and often times, is the great equalizer.

Kids will love that there are curse words in other languages (Hebrew & Arabic & Farsi), and those reading with their ears will learn the correct pronunciations. To that point -- the author doesn’t shy away from using all the horrible, derogatory terms that ignorant people used…and continue to use. Hate words. I think it’s the right choice to include them because it lends authenticity to the story and the shock of hearing them reminds the reader how powerful words are, then suggests:

“Let words change us and make us better people.”

The audiobook narration is outstanding, and Ramiz Monsef’s performance perfectly complements Khubiar’s writing.  Hearing Monsef voice the characters and pronounce words that were unfamiliar to me added an additional layer of realism to Just a Hat and made the story unforgettable. Pacing was perfect and I listened at 1x speed. Top-notch recording quality, too. Blackstone Audio never disappoints.

I highly recommend Just a Hat to readers of all ages because it’s not only a well-written, entertaining story that’s colored with humor and heartbreak, but it’s also a reminder that we must continue fighting the same battles to overcome hate, prejudice, and biases that persist. 

Shanah Khubiar is a retired law enforcement officer, and she is now self-employed as a subject matter specialist. She holds a BS and MEd in education from East Texas State University and a PhD in philosophy. A student of her Persian ancestry, she incorporates (Mizrachi) Middle Eastern Jewry into her fiction, examining the historical challenges and triumphs of a different culture and narrative than what usually appears in literature. Khubiar is a sometime resident and always fan of most things Texas.

Signed hardback copy of JUST A HAT
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/9/24)

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway


blog tour services provided by


  1. Replies
    1. It is an excellent book -- definitely intriguing and thought-provoking.