Genre: Contemporary


Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

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One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Amina's Voice
Hena Khan
Genre: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Publication date: March 14th, 2017
by Salaam Reads

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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.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review-

It’s in the title of this review post but I am going to repeat it anyway: Amina’s Voice is one of the most important books published this year and has clearly not gotten the hype it deserves. It’s a middle grade book and I know a lot of people shy away from reading those because reading tastes vary but please don’t overlook this book. Amina’s Voice is such a wonderful, heartfelt book and deserves and infinite amount of love from everybody.

I should take a moment to say I am neither Muslim-American or Pakistani-American but Amina’s Voice still resonated with and I found myself nodding along and feeling Amina’s struggle with her cultural identity on a spiritual level. I grew up feeling similar struggles and even though it wasn’t ~my story~, it felt really freeing to see that struggle reflected in a book I was reading and made the younger Rashika in me feel a little bit more at rest.

Amina’s Voice deals with cultural identity, religious identity and that awkward transition from elementary school to middle school. Even if you went to junior high instead of elementary + middle school, I think we can all agree that 6th grade is weird as fuck. EVERYTHING CHANGES and yet nothing really changes. People who you thought you knew are different. Middle school is just a weird time in general.

Hena Khan also incorporates some food porn into the novel and my mouth was WATERING as I read (and my stomach craved a delicious, home cooked meal.) This book- if you haven’t already gathered-deals with such serious issues and does so masterfully. Hena Khan knows her audience well and incorporates thought provoking discussions into the little things.

This is a book that should be in the hands of every middle schooler but young adults and adults can also take so much away from this beautifully, written novel. Don’t sleep on Amina’s Voice. READ IT and spread the love. We need so much more Muslim rep in children’s lit and the existence of this delightful, #ownvoices book is a step in the right direction. Let’s support these books though so we can get EVEN MORE.

*mic drop*

5 Stars
5 Hot Espressos

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

Posted by on 03/21/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for 10 Things I Can See From Here. Today, author Carrie Mac shares 5 books she wishes were around when she was growing up! Her list is full of many wonderful recs (and some new to me titles) so I am definitely piling up on those books! I hope you’ll check the books and 10 Things I Can See From Here!

PLEASE GIVE IT UP FOR, Carrie Mac!

I’ve picked books aimed at younger readers, say 8-12-years-old or so because that’s when kids need to see the people they are, or will become, represented in books. When they don’t—because the book hasn’t been written or they’re not allowed to read it—that’s when feelings of isolation really set in, just…

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Posted by on 02/22/2017 • 3 Comments

My feelings about this novel as about as complex as they get. Optimists Die First does some really great things but also needs a whole lot of work. Keep in mind that this is all based on an ARC version of the book as opposed to the finished copy and ARCs and finished copies can be worlds apart.

For starters, this book is about as cute as it sounds and looks. It is short and sweet and all about friendships and journeys. As one character in the book says, Optimists Die First is a ‘twisted version of the breakfast club.’

There is a complex portrayal of MH without any real labels and that was great. Petula has to go to mandatory art therapy and kind of really hates it. She doesn’t like any…

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

Posted by on 02/16/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to our first official post of THE INFINITE VARIANTS OF YA series! Today we have the absolutely lovely Lilliam Rivera on the blog answering a series of Would You Rather questions (which if you know me, I tend to ask really stupid qs sometimes so she was an absolute champ for putting up with me.)

SO, lets give it up for Lilliam Rivera!!!

A Game of Would You Rather with Lilliam Rivera!

Would you rather have a ginormous family or be an only child?

As much as I used to complain about growing up in a big, loud Puerto Rican family (three brothers, one older sister), I wouldn’t have it any other way. I loved it. You can always find someone to talk to and there are…

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Posted by on 02/15/2017 • 2 Comments

I have no idea how to start this review because I just want to throw We Are Okay in everyone’s faces and get them to read it. What drew me to the book was Nina LaCour and the pretty cover. While I haven’t read anything solely written by her, I had read You Know Me Well by her last year which she co-authored with David Levithan and fell in love with her writing.

LaCour’s writing just makes me wish I was buried under a ton of blankets with a book and a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa. We Are Okay is everything I didn’t even know I wanted from a holiday-themed book. It is complex, cozy and gut wrenching. It uses the tropes from common holiday novels but…

Just Another Teen Novel (IN A GOOD WAY!!): The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Just Another Teen Novel (IN A GOOD WAY!!): The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted by on 02/09/2017 • 2 Comments

2k17, the year where my eyes tear up because of everything. Currently tearing up because I wish I was a teen and I wish I could have had all these wonderful #ownvoices books in my life as a teen. I am not Latinx but goddamnit, it is so so SO good to read so many #ownvoices novels with non-white main characters. It is so good to see a POC main character and its so incredibly good to see a POC character in familiar tropes. Don’t ever let anyone tell you tropes are bad. TROPES ARE AMAZING (if done right) and people who think books need to not be trope-y are just reading books where tropes aren’t done well.

The Education of Margot Sanchez has been described as being ‘Pretty In…

A Book With the Potential to Completely Fuck You Over: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

A Book With the Potential to Completely Fuck You Over: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Posted by on 02/01/2017 • 11 Comments

Holy shit. THIS BOOK GUYS. Allegedly was one of my most anticipated books, but my co-worker who read it before I had a lot of FEELS (not good or bad, just FEELS), so I was a little nervous when I dove in. I had no idea the book would grip me and NOT LET ME GO. I read the 373 page book in a little over 2.5 hours. I GOBBLED IT, all while growing more and more anxious as I could feel something B.I.G. coming.

This book treads all the fine lines ever. There is no easy black and white in this book and it goes to lengths to make sure YOU KNOW THAT TOO. Justice, family, life cannot be put into little boxes and Jackson really explores what is right…

A Well Written, Character Driven Novel: Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine

A Well Written, Character Driven Novel: Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine

Posted by on 01/27/2017 • 3 Comments

Fire Color One is usually not the kind of novel I would find myself enjoying but I was thoroughly swept away by it. I love character development but I don’t really tend to enjoy books that are solely character driven. Fire Color One is primarily character driven. There is definitely a plot but it revolves around character revelations. Not around actual happenings. Yet it somehow managed to sweep me away till I had somehow run out of pages to read (*shakes fist at book for not being longer*)

This is a novel about grief, about relationships and a little bit about some revenge (and I am totes petty so I am all about the revenge life.) I think part of the magic of this book comes from how well the relationships…