Amina's Voice

Hena Khan
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she's in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the "cool" girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more "American." Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina's Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl's voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.


Reviewed: 2020-12-01

As she struggles to truly find her place and her voice, Amina thinks she would rather go back to elementary school where things were less stressful. Soojin and she have been best friends since second grade, but even their friendship may be in peril. Emily keeps butting in at lunch and Soojin seems to be drifting more toward her while Amina resents the intrusion. To make matters worse, their social studies teacher assigns Emily and Bradley to their group for an Oregon Trail unit. Things are different at home, too. Amina's older brother, Mustafa, has an attitude - he wants to try out for the basketball team, but his grades have slipped, and their father isn't convinced that Mustafa should spend time on basketball. On top of all this, their uncle arrives from Pakistan for an extended visit - his extra baggage is: an unrealistic image of America and extremely conservative ideas, plus, he demands that Amina and Mustafa participate in the Quran competition. Then the worst thing happens: the Islamic Center is vandalized. Can Amina deal with all this? If so, how? With other congregations participating and coming together to support the Muslims, the competition takes place. Amina manages to recite her part of the Quran, but Mustafa WINS! Then, she finds her voice and sings a solo with her school choir. In this realistic fiction, contemporary issues are addressed in a straight-forward manner. Milwaukee - where Muslims live peaceably as part of the community - is the setting. Soojin and her Korean family become citizens in the midst of the story. Muslim traditions are interwoven throughout, even while the family deals with the same issues all families with teens face. A great friendship and relational story pertinent for today's readers.

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