By: Hanna Alkaf
Genre: YFCF - Crime & mystery fiction (Children's / Teenage)
Published by: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: 6 Jul 2022
ISBN: 9781665917421


They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages.

13 points
noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Purchase Online


Najwa loves Scrabble, and is really good at it. Her best friend Trina was even better - she was the reigning Queen of the Tiles when she collapsed and died during a tournament.

One year later, Najwa is still grieving her friend but decides the best way to honour Trina is to compete again in the same tournament where she died. When Trina’s inactive Instagram account starts posting cryptic word clues suggesting that her death wasn’t an accident, Najwa knows she must find the truth. As she follows the clues, she soon realises that her friends may not be as innocent as she thought...

This is a fantastic novel, using a Scrabble tournament as the backdrop. Each chapter starts with a word, the scrabble score and the meaning, and I’m sure you won’t have heard of many of them!

Najwa is a character readers will love and Queen of the Tiles is a fast paced mystery that you will find very hard to put down.

It’s a story of grief, and the changing nature of friendships, all tied together around the mystery of Trina’s death, and also tackles the dark side of social media. This would make a very interesting classroom novel, with lots of topics for discussion, but is also a thrilling read that is perfect for those in Year 8 and up.

Reviewed by Michelle