Genre: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Publication date: March 14th, 2017
by Salaam Reads
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.