Author Spotlight

John O'Brien writes a compelling portrait of Muslim American teenage boys

John O’Brien, ethnographer and assistant professor of sociology, writes a compelling portrait of a group of teenage boys as they navigate the complex terrain of American adolescence and Muslim faith.

O’Brien spent over three years conducting intensive fieldwork in and around a large urban mosque where he closely followed the lives of Muslim American boys concerned with typical teenage issues — girlfriends, school, parents, being cool — yet who are also expected to be good, practicing Muslims who don’t date before marriage, who avoid vulgar popular culture, and who never miss their prayers.

Keeping it Halal: The Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys (Princeton University Press, 2017) sheds light on their strategic efforts to manage day-to-day cultural dilemmas in a new and changing America. 

These young men simply don't see a need to choose between being American and Muslim. They are already both of these things from the start. I think the problem comes with other people's expectations.

John O'Brien