The quest to find ones identity is thrusted upon Summer (Zoe Renee) and, as is usually the case, it’s a very difficult task for a 17 year old. Complicating matters further is her mother (Simone Missick), a divorced TV weather reporter, who converts to Islam. Whilst the pair attend Mosque together, Summer soon finds herself both supported and constrained within her actions. An ill-advised Instagram post that results in #HalalHottie and the introduction of Tahir (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a fellow class mate and Mosque attendee, only escalates the confusion for Summer to find an identity she is happy with.
Newcomer Zoe Renee is a revelation as the vibrant, care-free Summer, helping portray one the the most honest performances of a 17 year old seen all year. The different tone to her voice and attitude around her friends compared to her Mother make the grounded nature of the narrative totally relatable, even if you were never a 17 year old black girl. Adding to Jinn’s success and originality, is the acknowledgement of Summer’s heritage. We’ve seen countless stories like this told from the perspective of a white girl, so it is refreshing to have a new outlook into the life of a young adult.
Summer is presented with a choice about whether her identity she has now is the one she wants. What works superbly is how we’re presented with this dilemma and told that it shouldn’t really be answered. We see her mother drastically change her identity well into adulthood, so why should Summer be made to choose so soon? Summer’s decision will more than likely change years later and that’s absolutely fine. We see her wrestling throughout with what she wants. It may not be an original plot device, but by shifting the focus onto a young girl of colour, we get a new side to the story; a really compelling one at that.